If you were to ask me, “Beth, where does the sidewalk in Indiana end?” my answer would have to be, “The parking lot, obviously!” It’s not just an allusion to a poetry book for kids.
This post is certainly not meant to be an attack against Indiana exclusively or even entirely; rather, I am very fired up right now about the development of non-walkable communities in all states and nations. Part of my fired-upness may have to do with the fact that I had a few beers with my dinner. Ignore that fact–I think I have some valid points to be upset about, sober or non.
What the hell, city planners?! Apparently you thought the farthest I would ever need to walk safely would be to my car. Not across the street or even down the road–in this glamorous paradise that we live in, we all drive in isolated luxury to our destinations. Who would ever want to get out and walk to dinner??
Well, let me tell you, I am staying in a hotel in South Bend near a ridiculously giant mall, which happens to have several restaurants attached to it. I stayed here for several reasons, one of which is its proximity to lots of things. I’ve been driving all day, and I wanted to walk to dinner, which I did. I didn’t realize that would make me look like a mentalist because I’m forced to walk alongside the road on the grass or through parking lots.
Not only did I look crazy, but I was also in danger from traffic. No sidewalks also means that there are no crosswalks or friendly “walk” signs to tell me when it’s safe to cross the street. So, the lack of sidewalks actually compounds the problem of being forced to drive…if I lived here and wanted to walk somewhere (god forbid), I would probably change my mind pretty quickly because it’s inconvienent (no sidewalks) and dangerous (no crosswalks). Let’s all spend the rest of our lives in our cars stuck in traffic!
When I talk to students about Chicago, I always mention the fact that I don’t own a car and how great it is. It’s one of my favorite things about the city–I can get anywhere I need to go on public transit or on my own feet, which are actually quite handy (feety? haha! I crack myself up) as far as transportation goes. But I’m realizing that Chicago has really spoiled me, and I’ve forgotten how much the rest of the country relies on their cars to get places. I should know this–after all, I am from Tucson, the land of The Car.
I’m not entirely sure what the point of all this passionate anger is supposed to be…maybe that’s what happens when I write post-beer blog posts (?). Mostly, I want people who have the misfortune to live in non-walkable communities to not let that stop them! Get out and walk! Walking is awesome because it’s free, you don’t get stuck in traffic, don’t have to find a parking spot, and you can drink as much as you want and still take yourself home. Best of all, it has zero environmental impact. Among other reasons.
If you have the wonderfully good fortune to live in a place where walking really can take you places, feel good about that and take advantage of it. Don’t drive when you don’t have to.