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I was hit by a car, or, what working for a hippie bead seller taught me about activism

I was hit by a car, or, what working for a hippie bead seller taught me about activism
Dec
18

* Update (Jan. 7, 2010): The Spokane Spokesman-Review has published a story about walkability and growth planning, illustrating its points with my accident.

Season’s greetings!  This snowy, dark Tuesday afternoon, a couple of us were putting our coats on to go home.  “Walk defensively!” a coworker joked.  I did–and I was hit by a car.

I’m lucky enough to work for a hippie bead seller.  Rings & Things encourages us employees to bike to work, walk, snowshoe, or use some other “commute trip reduction” alternative.  I’ve learned a carbon ton about ways to show some love to our environment and our cities.

So my reaction to being run over is strangely positive…

I didn't even have one of these for protection!

I get my big chance to tell you about Complete Streets.

This is a movement of people with the utterly non-radical notion that “walking or cycling shouldn’t be a dangerous lifestyle choice.”  From what I can see of their membership, locally they’re led by some pretty established and down-to-earth personalities in our local political scene.  They work to make the city a place where you’d want to ride your bike, or walk around.

Amazing!  What could this lead to?

  • People might drive less, with lots of healthy results.
  • There might be more people enjoying the downtown area, instead of speeding through it.
  • More people might feel safe downtown, knowing they’re not just scenery.
  • There might be more activities downtown.
  • Businesses might re-occupy the classic old buildings in the downtown area.
  • Downtown might be pleasant again…

That’s how it used to be; I remember.  Guess we’re talking about a downright conservative idea :)

So, think about it.  I was run over.  My boss was hit.  One of my coworkers was hit in a crosswalk.  All downtown, all on the way to work.  I could list more that I know of, but you get it.  It’s not that we’re a bunch of uncoordinated nutcases–we’re just out there walking & biking.  And we’ve learned one thing:

All we want for Christmas is change! Think about making your downtown safe for walkers & bicyclists.  Check out what Mark Fenton says about these kinds of things; he’s a PBS TV host who’s thought a lot about it.  Thanks, and happy holidays!

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Comments (4)

I hope you were riding on the road and not the sidewalk. That’s how a lot of cyclists end up getting hit on by cars on intersections. Repeat after me: riding bikes on sidewalks is NOT safer than riding on the road. First of all, it’s infinitely more dangerous to pedestrians. Second, it’s even more dangerous for cyclists, who pop out onto intersections before drivers can see them. This is a big issue to me, because I get around by bicycle as much as I can, and I’ve had a lot more close calls with cars than I’d like to think about. Drivers aren’t used to looking out for bikes, because they’ve come to expect us to ride on the sidewalks. When I’m riding on the road, drivers honk at me and yell “Get on the sidewalk where you belong!” But bikes DON’T belong on the sidewalk. In some other cities, cyclists get tickets and have to pay heavy fines for riding there, and I wish they did here. It’s no fun walking around downtown Spokane when you have to keep jumping out of thew way of bicyclists. Yes, drivers have to learn to share the road with us. But we need to get onto THEIR road, where they can see us and look out for us, and leave the sidewalk for foot traffic.

Hi Tom, thanks for your comment! I was walking, so I was on the sidewalk. I agree that bikes probably ought to be in the road if they want to be treated by the “same rules” as cars. Not sure if I’m ready to walk in the road with the motor vehicles,though… :)

Update: the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTC) blog ran a story about this too: http://srtctransportation.blogspot.com/2010/01/victim-blogs-about-being-hit-by-car.html

Update 2: Complete Streets Spokane is having an organizing meeting on Wednesday, January 13th from 5:30 to 7pm at the YMCA.

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