Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I am Limping here!

I'll admit this story totally made me laugh when I was reading it. I completely agree with Pamela Hill Nettleton and all the points she makes in the article. Having worked with numerous transportation groups and elected officials, I am of the mind that we need to plan access for children, seniors, and the disabled. If we do that, and do it right, we are planning for those populations that have the hardest time with access on many different levels. I see infrastructure changes as the first key way of getting people to change their behavior. But first, Pamela's story:

So I have this immobilizing boot thing stuck to my foot. Apparently, there are tendons in my feet, and I have annoyed mine. Or, there’s a fracture and I stressed it. Either way, my left foot is now encased in plastic and I drag it around with me wherever I go.I figured out that I can still garden. I stick my leg in a Hefty trash bag and off I go to sit in the mulch and weed. In a pinch, I can even manage to hoe with my toes, more or less. I can still teach. Once I maneuver myself across campus, a lengthy and hopping sort of task that involves cursing in Gaelic (well, it does for me, anyway), I can sit to lecture, and the students don’t mind.And I can still write. Feet never were required for that gig.

But what I can’t do, as well as one might wish, is walk around town. I cannot get my gimpy self across the street fast enough. Even at a corner, even walking between the white lines, which are supposed to create a sanctum sanctorum for pedestrians, I get honked at for my lack of speed. No, this is not happening because I am so darn cute; the glare from behind the steering wheel telegraphs another message. The driver has been delayed for 30 seconds or so by being forced to share the planet with me.

He has been wronged. He has been maligned. His rights have been impinged upon, his personal space violated, his sense of himself as the center of the universe disrupted. He has been asked to do what is, simply, too much to expect. He has had to pause and wait for another human being. If blood pressure medication sales have spiked over at Walgreen’s, stockholders can, apparently, thank me. I can turn faces red at 50 slow, slow paces.

Complete Streets legislation just passed here in Minnesota so that might be the legislation we need to change the way we live our lives in the public domain. It is time for us to equally share and respect each other on the streets. We have lost the diversity of use and desperately need it back. That is why I was laughing at the story, because it is ironic how disengaged we have all become from one another.

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