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But If Obama Had Made Jobs We Could Employ People To Install Sidewalks

Athenae points us to today’s searing death ray of political brilliance: Michelle Obama’s ‘Get Moving’ Program Linked to Pedestrian Deaths. Ignore my jaw on this keyboard and keep reading.

The Governors Highway Safety Association says pedestrian deaths increased in the first half of 2010 and the First Lady’s program to get Americans to be more active could be partly responsible.

Governors Highway Safety Administration spokesman Jonathan Adkins told 630 WMAL that Michelle Obama is “trying to get us to walk to work and exercise a little bit more. While that’s good, it also increases our exposure to risk.”

… Other factors include distracted drivers, distracted pedestrians and what Adkins calls “aggressive pedestrians.”

*slowly raises hand* Hello, if I may. Is there maybe, oh, possibly, just saying, a chance that more people lack transportation now because of the shitty economy and have to WALK TO WORK WHAT A CONCEPT combined with the fact that many built-up (read: suburban) areas increasingly don’t have a comprehensive system of sidewalks? It’s a thought.

The rapidly-constructed retirement subdivision where my parents live is a great example. Each time I visit them is a chance for my nature-loving father, the veritable John Fraking Muir of Ohio suburbia, to stand and deliver: “The developers have chopped down every single tree in these gorgeous old-growth woods [never got that – why not simply cut down what you don’t need and leave the rest?], would place these houses on top of one another if they could [yards, after all, are for pussies] and are off to destroy another round of woods, ambient water table and natural topography in the next township.” Sidewalks then cost money, which neither the developer nor the township wants to pay for. Besides, you’ve now got a lovely 1.5-car garage (into which fits comfortably a standard SUV and a garden rake) and can drive to the conveniently-near mall, grocery store, church and rec center. Why ever, dear American, would you want to walk on your own blessed soil?

I don’t blame my dad for running off to Chennai for six months out of the year. Indian cities create no pretenses like Walnut Woodlands, The Lakes at Whistling Streams or The Park of Hunter Pasture. They go straight for Gandhi Tacky Dump, St. Mary’s Putrid Badlands and Sivasankara Malaria Depression. Take it or leave it, the next buyer awaits.

Come to think of it, every new American neighborhood I’ve visited, be it in this small town, Akron, Columbus, Cleveland, Fort Collins, Orlando, Houston and suburban New Orleans, lacks sidewalks. And that’s where the two extremes of modern living – the cheap-ass apartment complex with little to no parking and the McMansion with five garages – tend to commonly occur. I’ll let you do the math. The only reason I recall the sidewalks, or lack thereof, in each one of these neighborhoods is the “aggressive pedestrian” mentioned above and his or her microscopic approximation-of-dog walked on a mile-long leash just purchased out of the SkyMall catalog that I’ve had to swerve, brakes screeching and all, to avoid hitting. It’s not that poor genetic disaster Fluffy’s fault.

Where The Sidewalk Ends (courtesy corde5 on Flickr)

Then there’s that hilarious case of where the sidewalk ends. It just stops. This is old town. Take a step forward and you’re in new town. You can now walk on yuppie grass and get shot at have nasty letters written to you by the neighborhood association. “We are a group of good Christian and God-fearing people here at The Creek of Sheffield Forest. We understand that you are a homeowner, but walking on the lawns, however close to the curb, is not allowed. We insist that you refrain from this questionable activity at once and walk only on the pavement, taking care to avoid our freshly-washed, wide-turning, all-terrain vehicles, of course. Our children are not to be influenced by such deviant behavior. This will be our first and only warning.”

But what really, truly perplexes me is this new phenomenon of people running on the streets towards your vehicle WHEN THERE IS A PERFECTLY GOOD CLEAN, UNBROKEN AND PLOWED SIDEWALK JUST THREE YARDS OVER FERCHRISSAKES LET ME PUSH YOU ONTO IT. I mean, what? Are you stupid? You’re obviously educated enough to achieve the earning power to afford that running ensemble of  UnderArmour, Ray Bans, iPod and brand-new NBs. Why risk losing all of that, your brand new 7-minute mile and those internal organs to the front headlight of a vehicle doing the legal speed limit which has no other place to go but into you? You run at 8AM on my way to work and at 5PM on my way back from work. Speaking of which, what the hell are you doing running on the streets during rush hour anyway? Do you not have jobs to go to? Oh, and get this, get this, just this morning, one of you was even running in the middle of the street towards us WITH AN ORANGE SAFETY VEST ON because a winter weather advisory has been issued for the entire Ohio valley and visibility has been severely reduced. *BLINK*BLINK*

Your dumb ass had better have voted for Obama because his wife is now taking the blame for it. Meanwhile, poor Pedro in Houston or suburban Canton and his wife have to legitimately walk on the street just to get to and from the bus stop, while avoiding people on their cellphones who have no regard for pedestrian crossings. “Health enthusiasts” risking their lives to run in the middle of the street with sidewalks present. Less-fortunate Americans who are forced to, in the absence of sidewalks and comprehensive public transportation, put themselves in harm’s way to deliver food to their family’s plates.

Good grief, what next? Simply breathing increases our exposure to risk, so could you kindly quit it? How much more barbarically partisan and deeper into the pockets of insurance companies can this country get?

3 comments… add one
  • jeffrey January 20, 2011, 7:51 PM

    I run in the street all the time. The sidewalks on Prytania street suck way too much for a person to keep a decent stride without the constant fear of tripping over a brick or a root or bucked concrete.

    • Maitri January 21, 2011, 9:19 AM

      That’s why I took the care to point out “good clean, unbroken and plowed” sidewalks available up here. For drivers, New Orleans is like India, staying in your lane is just a suggestion. So a driver can move out of your running way.

      I know how you feel about bicycle lanes, but I simply wish New America would make it easier for people who don’t want to or can’t afford to drive everywhere.

  • candice January 22, 2011, 12:25 AM

    It’s cheaper to clear cut than it is to work around the trees. My parents moved us to mandeville just before high school, and I watched it turn from tree-y sleepy bedroom community to clear-cut suburbia hell with traffic as bad as baton rouge. On the one hand they’d like to move, on the other hand they keep pouring money into the house so that they’ll like it more.

    Where we lived across the river before that actually does have a network of sidewalks – we could walk to the library from one house. And that particular suburban tract was built with oil money in the late 70s/early 80s.

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