The District is planning to move forward with the K Street Transitway, which would rebuild K Street to give buses their own, car-free lanes and drastically reduce trip times between Union Station and Georgetown. It's also the source of a really embarrassing crush I had in high school.
Back in 2005, when this proposal first appeared, I was a senior in high school. I knew I was into transit: in programming class, which was in a computer lab, I spent my time talking to Dan Malouff and other budding nerds on the BeyondDC message board, which was all we had before Greater Greater Washington. I also knew I was very into boys, and not sure what to do with that information.
And then: K Street. The District Department of Transportation published a computer-generated video of the K Street line, illustrating how it would look and how it would work, with recreations of actual buildings and streets and even real Golden Triangle Business Improvement District signs. There were also lots of little people waiting for the bus (or streetcar, which was also being studied at the time.)
Those little people are sometimes called “scalies,” because they help give human scale to the image, but also lend some personality. Many years later, as an architecture student, I would scour the internet looking for photos of people to put in my renderings. My favorite was a man in a bee suit holding a tray of coffee cups, and he appeared in a lot of my schoolwork.
But in 2005, I watched this video, unaware of scalies, and saw him:
He first appears around 1:28, just having missed the bus. Dressed in all black. Leather jacket over his shoulder. Shaggy black hair. Looking off into the distance, maybe thinking about when the next bus would come, maybe not. Too cool to care.
Later he's looking thoughtfully at the map. Maybe he's ready to catch the bus now. Does he have somewhere to be? No. He'd light up a cigarette and take a long drag were it not for the “no smoking” sign, because he's cool, but still respectful.
I admire him from above, imagining where he might be going, who he's going to see. If he's single. If he's into boys who like boys who like transit.
Whoa. Am I seeing double, or is this my lucky day? Am I allowed to step into the dedicated bus lanes to find out?
In 2005 my parents had a hella slow internet connection, so I found the company that made it and wrote them asking for a DVD “to show supporters of a BRT project in my community” and they obliged. (Dork that I was, I also spent my time on the BeyondDC message boards pushing for a Bus Rapid Transit line on Route 29 that 17-year-old me would be sad to learn is still not finished.)
And I watched it again and again and again. MMM. THIRST.
I came out that fall, and this video probably helped, as I eventually realized I wasn't watching it to compare the merits of buses and streetcars.
Also, look at all of the other scalies with their amazing 2000s-era clothes: baggy pants! Crop tops! The patterns!
Tl;dr I became a transit advocate because of a boy I liked. Classic story, right?