defending our sidewalk ghetto

We have to be reminded, and remind others, that the streets are for people first, and that everything else is there only with the sufferance of the people.

The NYTimes decided to print two letters [ok, it was a saturday, when the big boss editor types are out and only the diehards read the paper anyway] defending the pedestrian against, well, machines. Not entirely characteristic for the Times, but we should encourage the old gray lady whenever this sort of thing happens. Significant excerpts are:

Since the dawn of civilization, streets have been the principal public space of every community. Sidewalks are a relatively recent modification of the urban streetscape intended to segregate walkers from motorized travelers, greatly privileging the latter while diminishing community life, public health, economic vitality and environmental quality.

Pedestrians are besieged enough in their already meager sidewalk ghetto, without the additional hazard of pricey high-speed scooters like the Segway.

Revitalizing our cities begins with reclaiming public space to enhance social interaction. And this begins with defending our fundamental right to free movement — to walk.


While permitting the Segway to patrol our sidewalks is (I hope!) unthinkable, the bicycle seems to have claimed for itself a popular right of way. As a result, people who are old or disabled cannot count on going to the corner grocery without putting their lives at risk. I am legally blind and have had many nasty surprises from bicyclists who don't know or don't care about the meaning of the white cane.

Too bad we had to wait for the Segway to make us ask to whom our sidewalks rightfully belong.


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Published on January 11, 2003 10:18 PM.

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