Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Leave the Road for Cars

I am a big proponent of walking. I have written about it before.  I find it ever so unfortunate to live in a city that is one of the least walkable areas I have ever lived in. Creating a lively, safe, walkable city is not even on the list of criteria for developers and urban planners around these parts. No sirree. We're all about the four-wheeled guzzling monster.  A subdivision north of town welcomes you with a fountain oddly resembling something from an ill-placed resort and signs that boast "26 miles of walking." Um, walking to where exactly? I prefer an organic community with its own pulse, hotspots, and places where you happen upon fellow dwellers in an unstaged, unscheduled manner. And by community, I mean neighborhood, not subdivision, development, planned community. But my beef with the lack of such neighborhoods in Raleigh is for another day.

It seems that others enjoy walking too, whether for exercise, errands, or the whole two birds one stone bit. There are walkers aplenty in a lovely area neighboring my old school neighborhood. I see them everyday, and I know they see me too. I can tell by the glares.

Read on from a letter of complaint I posted to Dirt & Noise.

Dear Walkers of White Oak Road,

Please do not glare at me as I
drive along at the posted speed limit. Did I mention that I have never
had a speeding ticket, much less a parking ticket, in 25 years of
driving? I drive a small SUV, not a Hummer that hogs the road. The
lanes are plenty wide for me. The yard services' trucks that regularly
line the street consume all the space on the tiny shoulder that is
smaller than Tinkerbell's haunches. I don't speed. I don't honk. I
don't swerve. I drive to the right of the line and obey the speed
limit. Always.

Yet you walk two, three, and even up to five in
a row as if you are Queen Bees ruling the high school halls shoulder to
shoulder. Plus, you push strollers (double joggers) and have a dog or
two on a leash. Your posse literally takes up more space than my
Highlander. I might curse you under my breath and keep my middle finger
firmly in place on the steering wheel but I never honk or jeer. I do
utter in disbelief that you'd be idiotic enough to take up all the room
on a road as narrow as a neocon's mind.

But I see you, in your
matching tennis skirts and visors, all turn in unison to glare at me as
I drive by. Me, the one who's obeying the law of the road. Here's a tip
to tuck in your tanned decolletage, don't walk two by two with a
stroller and a dog on a road that has no sidewalks.
I am all for pedestrian rights and respecting walkers, bikers, and the
like. But generally there's mutual respect and a healthy fear of, oh,
3000 pounds of steel coming around a blind curve.

I happen to be
a big fan of sidewalks and live in a neighborhood that has them. I walk
with my sons in my neighborhood. I pushed their strollers and walked
neighbor's dogs on those sidewalks. We decorate those sidewalks with
chalk drawings and hopscotch boxes. We never stray from the sidewalks;
that is a general tenet of city living. Roads are for cars. Sidewalks
are for people. There is no gray area here. One of the earliest lessons
we taught our sons was to stay off the road and on the sidewalk.
Danger! Danger! Danger!

From the myriad skateboarders, bikers,
scooters, and ripsticks I see on White Oak Road (sans helmets!), I
guess you are handing down road ownership to the next generation. Is
this a symptom of the general sense of entitlement plaguing America
these days or are you really that clueless? Let me reiterate, if the
road doesn't have a sidewalk, is narrow, and is peppered with blind
curves, don't walk on it. If
you must walk there, walk against traffic so you can see what's coming
and by all means, move to the freaking side when a car passes. That
means walk single file, gather your troops, and squeeze in tightly.

You might own one of those big fancy houses but you're a fool if you think you own the road.


An Irritated Driver Who Doesn't Want to Play Frogger

Ilina walks, but refuses to run. You can find her walking to her favorite coffee shop, where she writes at Dirt & Noise and Foodie Mama when she's not busy being the voice of the consumer for clients of her marketing consulting business.

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