Not a Society for Walking

No WalkingRain brings out the worst in drivers. It’s curious. You would think it would be otherwise. They are, after all, inside warm and dry cars. And the roads are slippery. So it is the time when drivers should slow down and take it easy. But they do just the opposite. They drive faster — more recklessly. A storm is the worst time to be walking around — because the drivers are so awful.

It isn’t a news flash that we live in a society designed for cars. But unless you spend a little time walking around, you will no see just how bad it is. Watching drivers as they often literally tap their fingers waiting for you to cross the street, you would get the impression that they are the ones being pelted with rain as they move down the road at three miles per hour. Really: I live roughly a half hour’s walk from the nearest store. It takes roughly two minutes to drive there. But most drivers are deeply annoyed that they can’t cut it down to a minute and a half.

Walking Near Construction

In downtown Santa Rosa, Court House Square is completely fenced off — apparently being remodeled or something. Today, I was doing some Christmas shopping and this required that I make my way to the bank in that area. But absolutely no concern was given to walking. I found myself in what was very much like the worst maze ever designed. In addition to endless unmarked dead-ends, there were numerous areas where I had to backtrack because a sidewalk simply ended on a busy street without a crosswalk.[1] In order to walk two blocks, I ended up walking at least eight.

I run into this kind of thing quite a lot. When construction is going on, little if any thought is given to how it will affect those walking. If a car has to go around the block, big deal. But today, what would normally have taken me three minutes to walk took more like a half hour — just to get from where the bus dropped me off to the bank that used to be two blocks away but that is now blocked by the post-apocalyptic no man’s land of “Coming soon!” urban renewal.

The Speed of a Worthless Life

The other issue is the speed of life. I just don’t have hours and hours to run errands. We’ve created a society that is the worst that it can be. No one has any time. And everything takes forever because our lives are designed around the idea that oil companies need to make a lot of money. So it’s not surprising that in addition to things being designed to be bad for walking, they are even worse when any construction goes on.

This is no way to live a life. But it probably does explain why I avoid going outside most days.

[1] I never jaywalk for two reasons. First: I always assume that drivers are trying to kill me because they are. Second, I don’t want to give some psychopathic police officer a reason to harass me.

4 thoughts on “Not a Society for Walking

  1. I had a job, for about two weeks, that required a yellow construction vest. This vest was cool. As it meant I could walk through any construction zone in downtown Minneapolis and nobody gave me any shit. It really made transferring from one bus to the next a damn sight easier. But it was a horrible job.

    • Ah. I’m afraid in this case, it wouldn’t have helped. I would have had to climb some tall fences. And I’m not really up to that. I wasn’t even when I was young. Also: I attract police officers like flies. It doesn’t seem to matter. But I’m glad it worked for you!

  2. All I know is that out west it is harder to do things via walking because there was so much space. That is one thing I find hard to do much of since I do live on a stove.

    • Yes, but a lot of why we get sprawl is that people have a problem with high-density housing. But it’s actually great. It keeps rents low in addition to making the issues I was talking about easier.

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