Want to Stay Safe on the Subway? Put Your Phones and Earbuds Away
By Yehudit Garmaise
More than 6.5 million New Yorkers, the most since before the pandemic, stepped onto buses, subways, and commuter trains this Friday, but many public transit riders remain uneasy about their safety in the wake of several shocking shootings and other day-to-day chaos on the rails.
While most New Yorkers know to stay aware of the people around them as they walk down the street or decide into which subway car to enter, Jennifer Cassetta, a wellness coach, self-defense expert, teacher, and author, provided a few extra pointers on NY1 on Tuesday on how commuters can protect themselves on mass transit.
“A ‘safety mindset’ is essentially being aware of your surroundings when you’re out and about,” said Cassetta, who emphasized that commuters should maintain “situational awareness, which is the cornerstone of safety.”
While boredom could make checking texts, scrolling social media, and listening to music welcome distractions for subway users, Cassetta advised that commuters put their phones and earbuds away.
We need our eyes and ears available to take in information to avoid danger, said Cassetta, who is a third-degree black belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art.
Even more important than watching and listening for potentially dangerous situations, Cassetta said, is for riders of public transit to listen to their instincts.
“Phones away, earbuds out, but riders really need to pay attention,” said Cassetta.
Riders should take seriously any senses and intuition that something is “off” and feels dangerous so they can make decisions about where to walk and into which car to ride.
Before deciding where to board, for instance, commuters should take quick visual scans of train cars and buses to determine what might be taking place there already.
New Yorkers who start to feel anxious that something dangerous might be unfolding around them in cars or on platforms, should stay aware of “where their bodies are in relationship to other objects,” Cassetta said.
For instance, deciding where to stand can help commuters to stay protected.
While waiting for trains, commuters should always stand far back from platforms’ edges and consider standing in front of a pole or wall so that no one can come up quickly behind them.
“If you do have to look at your texts or check your social media, put your back up against something so you could still see [the] periphery [around you] as you do that,” said Cassetta, who said to then, “put your phone away as soon as possible.”
Even after boarding trains, phones should stay in pockets and purses so that commuters’ eyes are available to watch “who is coming and going,” said Cassetta.
Another tip is that riders should not sit with their backs to the subways’ doors.
“Set yourself up for safety,” said Cassetta.