Oh Sidewalk, Where Art Thou?
Yesterday I thought it would be a lark to take the bus up to the Target in Northway Mall. It was an innocent idea but a really depressing trip, and it ties right in with my parking rant from last week.
I hopped off the bus at the
stop, pushed the big button that tells the light that someone wants to cross the street, and waited. And waited. The lights cycled through and no Walking Guy appeared. The Red Hand didn’t budge. Eventually another person waiting to cross just went for it and I followed, sprinting across Colonie Center Central Ave. On the other side of the road there is a pedestrian walkway into the plaza, which I was delighted to see. I followed it for about three minutes until it inexplicably stopped at this point:
That is one ghost town of a parking lot. It was the middle of the afternoon and the lot was like a barren desert of steaming blacktop. Empty spaces as far as the eye could see. At one point, I think a tumbleweed rolled by me. Since I had reached the end of the sidewalk, the only thing to do was to make a beeline for the entrance. I just narrowly avoided being hit by not one but TWO cars whose operators apparently were very thrown off by the fact that someone was walking in, rather than driving. Please take another look at the picture. Two cars barely missed clipping me in a near-empty lot. Perhaps I am ignorant of the process of planning a parking lot, but I don’t remember a time, even back during more economically secure days, when this lot would have been bursting at the seams. It was probably always excessive, and now it’s just sad and dangerous and a literal waste of space.
By the time I got in the door I felt like I’d been put through the ringer, just to go to Target, for fuck’s sake. Not only did I have to be constantly vigilant of my safety but I had to navigate an un-navigable (from a pedestrian’s perspective) route. I had to guess at when to cross the street and then make a mad dash with semis bearing down on me. I wondered in my last post why, exactly, people have such a problem with walking places and the answer was presented to me almost immediately and with sparkling clarity: That's not the way we've designed the majority of our world. Maybe in my insular little Center Square it's easier to say, "Park it and walk!" I still think we should all do this, but it's going to take a restructuring of our culture from the ground up.
After all that, the only thing I really needed was a bottle of nail polish, which I got, but it’s not exactly the color I wanted. The next time I’m feeling either brave or suicidal, maybe I’ll try again.