History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sharing the Sidewalk with Toddlers

Anonymous called me a name in the comment (to this post) that have I just deleted, not a particularly bad name, but certainly unnecessary to get his point across. The rest of his post was this:

"And if you were hit by a bike while walking in the middle of the bike path, it would be the righteous bike rider's fault, right?"

Which misses the point completely, because I'm actually on the side of rational transportation policy, presumably his side. After all I was sufficiently interested in promoting bicycling to stand there and count them rather than reading a book until my late bus came.

I have been a devoted bicylist—for years. I have consistently commuted in 3°F weather. I have been doored more than once. I have been smashed up onto the hood of a left-turning automobile (whose driver I called a much worse name, you can be sure). I've twisted my front wheel and fork in trolley tracks. I can repack my bearing races and restring a wheel. I'm just not bicycling now.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, and mass transit users are all getting the transportation shaft. Too much of the infrastructure is devoted to a losing game—personal automobiles powered with petroleum products.

The fact that I find I have to disdain a marked pedestrian way in preference to a marked cycling way and the fact that an imprudent bicyclist may ride too fast and collide with me have less to do with where we walk and ride than it condemns the social choices we collectively have made concerning allocation of resources among the various transportation modes.

Forgive me for reposting this picture (from the previous post) which shows the sign directing pedestrians to walk on smooth concrete in a straight line adjacent to six lanes of traffic, and directing bicycles to bumpy macadam in an inefficient undulating path. Forget the lack of appropriateness of each path to the intended users.

Rather focus on the small group of children, toddlers, actually, and their chaperons to the left of the photograph. I wanted to take a better picture of them, but I did not want to agitate the adults by being a stranger photographing their young charges.

Every day, when the weather is clement, approximately two dozen toddlers take a very slow walk along this segment of the Southwest Corridor Park. Sometimes they are pulled along in a wagon, sometimes they walk together holding onto a rope, as a way to keep them safe and well-marshaled.

It is a perfectly natural activity, something we all would applaud. They obviously do not belong on the designated pedestrian sidewalk next to the Columbus Avenue traffic sewer. They obviously belong on the safe way, among the trees and birds. They ought to walk at their accustomed pace, only being careful to keep together and keep on the path.

It ought not be necessary for them to keep to the right, heed bicycle bells, listen for shouts of "ON THE LEFT," or have any awareness of their surroundings.

It is incumbent upon all walkers, wheeled persons (inline skaters, skaterboarders, unicyclists, bicyclists, and everybody) to slow to an appropriate speed, to the point of dismounting if necessary, to ensure these children can enjoy their morning walk without danger.

This is not an optimal situation. Two to three lanes of Columbus Avenue ought to be devoted to human-powered transportation. Those lanes ought to be full to the brim with humans powering their own transportation. The children and other pedestrians ought to be able to enjoy their walkways unmolested.

This is not yet the state of affairs. And, until it is, we have to share the road.

A final note. Adam Gaffin, in his business at UniversalHub, may have to tolerate name-calling in the comments on his site, but I do not. I'm interested in what folk have to say, but I will delete without fail comments that are not polite.

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