I've noticed this myself too. If you're white and middle-class and dare to use mass transit, even to get between the car repair shop and your office, your friends and family will be amazed that you made it out alive and with your wallet, and they'll ask you how the ride went, as if you had just visited a war zone. Also expect to be asked how smelly it was, or if any riders vomited.
In Tallahassee, US 90 goes right through the middle of the city as Tennessee St., three lanes each direction for 2.2 miles. There is a plan being floated around to turn the outside lanes into bus and bike lanes, making it only two "regular" lanes each direction. Of course, all the businesses on the street are screaming bloody murder, and comments on the local news website are thinly veiled attacks at the only beneficiaries being bike-riding, freeloading hippies who need to take a bath, get a job, get a car, and start paying taxes. Attacks are also directed at mass transit, which one commenter decried as a massive burden on the City budget (it's 2%).
Regarding racism/classism, I feel that the same attitudes are also what make so many people opposed to universal health care. A lot of people (even liberals) insist we "already have" universal health care, since poor people can go to the emergency room or the "free clinic".
The reality is that they do not want to be sitting in their dentist's waiting room and watch a woman wearing a McDonald's uniform come in and take a seat. She needs to be at the "free clinic" with her type, not at "my" dentist.
Just like mass transit--they don't want to be riding the metro and find themselves face-to-face with a woman wearing a McDonald's uniform.
> >The longer I live, the more I'm convinced that racism lies behind much of both the suburbanization and the auto-centricity of America.
> I'm more and more of the opinion that this is true. The only good news here is that it appears that most people in the younger generations have gone beyond racism, at least if the behavior of school kids in NJ is any barometer. I often see them in mixed-race groups.
> The decimation of black neighborhoods in the 50's and 60's by "urban renewal" (i.e., the demolition of black neighborhoods) and the construction of urban "interstates" against the will of their leading promoter, Dwight Eisenhower, were acts that were effectively and probably intentionally racist.
> I wish I were not so often ashamed of my nation.