Walk and Smell the Flowers

It says something about the country that we live in that the simple act of walking to work can merit a blog post. But so it is. Today, at her fine blog The Naked City, Mary Newsom wrote about her experience walking the 4.2 miles from her home to her office. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She often writes about planning and transportation issues and has a great understanding of livable streets issues. As she made her lonely way along the street, she was able to experience in a different way how completely dominated by cars her familiar landscape is, and what that means:

3386810797_2bc0454a74.jpgYou won’t get this view from a car going 40 miles per hour. (Photo: Happy Photography Maker via Flickr)

You see more when you walk, of course. I saw daffodils and crocuses and
some fruit trees (cherry? plum?) blooming. I saw two places that were
complete barriers to anyone wheelchair bound. They should be fixed.…

I didn’t get run over,
though I had to make eye contact with motorists a lot and a couple of
times realized that state law giving me the right of way in crosswalks
was irrelevant, when drivers were complete unaware I existed because
they never even looked. It felt like wearing Harry Potter’s
invisibility cloak.

I walked mostly along Morehead Street,
Queens Road and Providence Road. It was rush hour so traffic was heavy.
Almost every vehicle I saw carried only a driver and no passengers.
Maybe 5 to 10 percent had a second person, typically a child. All this
on a beautiful spring-like morning with a shining sun and temperatures
climbing from the 40s into the 50s as I walked. I started to wonder why
more people weren’t walking.…

No moral to this story, just sharing the experience, in hopes others might decide to give it a try someday, if they can.

I find the image of all those flowers blooming and all the people driving right past them quite sad.

Elsewhere around the network: Bike Portland has a write-up on the "People for Bikes" campaign announcement at the National Bike Summit. DC Bicycle Transportation Examiner asks, "Should your Senator be booted from the Senate Bike Caucus?" And Extraordinary Observations wonders if the recession is leaving suburban teens carless — and even more adrift than before.

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