Sunday, October 9, 2011
On Tuesday evening I am facilitating an initial meeting of a group called Walk Silver Spring. I hope to begin the process of building a community of self-professed pedestrians to advocate for better pedestrian policies and practices and to promote walking in Silver Spring. No group exists that focuses on transportation issues here from a purely-pedestrian view. No group exists that can give voice to the lives of pedestrians in Montgomery County without rely almost solely on accident statistics.. No group exists that tells the story of pedestrians from a pedestrian viewpoint. No group exists that is not sponsored or staffed by government, and that has no other purposes than the well-being of pedestrians.
Pedestrians are the least of all the transportation users. They have little representation and get a very thin slice of the budget, but they make-up more than 20% of the population. We are a quiet, but large group on the margins of the transportation system. The older, the younger, the browner, the pooer, the weaker, the disabled, the voiceless.Voices comnplaining about tiny fractures in the system that hardly seem worth noticing.
These tiny cracks riddle the pedestrian transportation sytem. They are like tiny brushfires that the County and State rush-around to put out - without enough water. The people who walk through this landscape become the helpless. Maryland and Montgomery County say, "We're sorry, but this is the best we can do for you now. Buy a car or a bicycle and maybe we can work with you."
Still, pedestrians carry-on because they must. Life is out there, and you can't let not being able to drive stop you. Of course, there are also those who choose to be pedestrians. Some are because they want to keep fit. Some have an environmental-conscience and want to use as little petroleum as possible. For many there is a social-connection that comes from walking their neighborhoods. It is a potential way to meet your neighbors.
Whatever brings you to this issue, it is time for you to stop reading and start taking steps to make things better. It is not that difficult, and many people make a difference on other issues by doing the same. Come to this meeting. Talk with your neighbors - with other pedestrians like you. Let's find a way to make a positive difference. Let's discover the story behind the stats, and make sure decision-makers hear that story. Don't accept being marginalized any longer!
Let your neighbors know about this meeting! Ask them to pass it along!