Share a ride, make more friends

spacing_hitch

Co-written by Rachel Caroline Derrah and Anna Duckworth.

NOVA SCOTIA – Consider this: you’ve got somewhere to be. But you’ve got no means to get there. You plan ahead and solicit a drive from someone else. It’s carpooling.

Now, let’s say you don’t have time on your side. You start walking and en route you solicit a drive from a passing car. This negotiation happens in public. It’s hitchhiking.

Let’s get this straight then, the law struggles with the context in which we negotiate shared transportation, but not the actual act of sharing a ride.

Welcome to Nova Scotia – a small province that boasts almost no means to move from one community to the next. Outside the fortunate few who own cars, Nova Scotians are bound to their backyards by the absence of alternative transportation and infrastructure.

There’s no train. There’s no efficient carpooling system. But there is a bus. Sadly it runs between only some communities and the infrequency of these trips is crippling.

How about the Lunenburg-Halifax commute. There’s significant traffic between the two communities along highway 103 each day. For commuters who are expected at work by nine AM, the bus renders you about four hours late.

So here’s an idea.

Last weekend, a hot ticket party popped up in Lunenburg County and we were hell bent on getting there. A quick look at the bus schedule and our suspicions were confirmed — the only trip South didn’t fit our schedule. We called our friends, but couldn’t lock down a ride.

With thumbs out and cardboard signs in tow, we hit the highway on foot. For transparency’s sake, we were two twenty-something blonde girls seeking a ride with YOU.

Lo and behold, two rides admitted to picking us up for this reason.

But the other two rides legitimized our efforts. The first was a woman reminicsing about her glory days. The other came from a couple who welcomed us aboard after we knocked on their window.

Hitch-hiking was easier than we thought, despite a slow start. Only the inner city drivers seemed wary, yelling “be careful” from the comfort of their cars. Of course, they weren’t interested in offering a ride.

Our adventure was inspired by a need for some good old-fashioned fun (and a burning desire to party). But we were also keen to highlight the many environmentally conscious and economically modest citizens who don’t want to own a car — the ones who count on the government to provide viable transit infrastructure.

It would be cool to invest in transit infrastructure or even a forum to negotiate shared car rides. But if not that, then let’s make this a community where common practice is knocking on a car window for a ride.

How ’bout all the friends we could make!

8 comments

  1. I’ve hitchhiked through 9 provinces and 1 territory and I’ve never had such good fortune as I did in Nova Scotia. Even when not traveling with a female companion, some kind, talkative soul unfailingly stopped to pick me up along 102 or 104 faster than… well, the bus in most Canadian cities. I always think of NS and the wonderful people there when the urge to hit the road strikes me.

  2. In Russia, when one hails a cab, any car can/will stop and you can negotiate a ride and set a price depending on your destination. If you’re cautious, you can wait for a ‘real’ taxi, otherwise, you can often get prompt service (and as a driver, get a few bucks towards your gas). Though this is likely too informal and bottom-up for Canada, perhaps the state could officialize such a system through special windshield stickers attesting to driving record and non-criminality (for drivers) and non-criminality (for passengers). Or we could, you know, just wing it…

  3. I’m with you D. It’s hard enough to flag a cab in Halifax, since their sign is always lit up even when they have a passenger, let alone catch an NS inter-city bus at the time you need it.

  4. Nova Scotia needs rail again. Yes, it failed but only because it wasn’t run properly, as is the case with govt funded operations. Having very few high capacity trains run infrequently throughout the province was the killer. Widening roads and making new ones made it worse. Instead, the province needed many more trains of smaller capacity, running more frequently. When public transport runs infrequently, it becomes useless. Solo driving remains the only option for many.

  5. Hitchhiking is almost as dangerous as hitting golf balls off of citadel hill.  Quite frankly this kind of reckless behaviour should be frowned upon

  6. Thanks for offering your perspective, Fanny – there is certainly a common perception in Nova Scotia that hitchhiking is dangerous and perhaps, as you said, reckless.

    I think there is something to be said for stepping outside our normal, daily grind. To think about the ways we interact in public places – with people who may not yet be our friends.

    Though we may have put our personal safety at risk (as we pedestrians do each time we cross the street, or drivers each time they get behind the wheel) we did not put anyone else’s safety at risk.

    This was a practice in using our intuition. It was an experiement of stepping outside our normal, daily grind. We learned a lot from it and I think we inspired the people we met to do the same.

    ps. those were practice golfballs on the Citadel and could not have harmed a fly 🙂

  7. There is a flaw in your assessment of risk. The primary risk one assumes by crossing a roadway or by operating a vehicle is rooted in the possibility of a physical accident. The actions of the instigator are neither intended or premeditated.

    While this same concept of risk exists with hitchhiking, there is the added risk of personal harm resulting from assault or abduction. This risk can not be mitigated through added attentiveness or caution. Calling on inspiration from the movie War Games, “the only way to win is to not play the game.

    To equate the risks of crosswalk to that of being a willing hitchhiker ignores a bit irresponsible. While the notion of a friendlier society where rides are freely shared among the citizenry certainly has merit, its important not to lose sight of reality in the face of unnecessary romanticism.

    Having said that, I believe there is another great topic interwoven in this article that may warrant further authoriship: Can an idealistic society that shuns individual vehicle ownership but values on-demand inter-regional mobility support the true cost of providing expanded transportation services?

  8. I appreciate how concerned people are for our safety 🙂

    I don’t think anyone is “shunning” anything – personally, I don’t have a car because I cannot afford it. I am a member of CarShare HFX.

    What do you think is the “true cost” of providing expanded transportation services?

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