The “hard truth” of walkability is that we have to make a choice. We have to choose between either supporting car-dominance or people-dominance. The two can’t really coexist peacefully. In order for pedestrians to be safe those who drive will have to make some sacrifices. The good news is they don’t have to sacrifice all that much! In order for us to build and make places that are walkable in our county the car is going to have to start taking a slightly lower priority. In a lot of places around town the cars will have to drive a little slower. Now and then drivers may have to wait for a few seconds behind a turning car rather than having all the turn-lanes or deceleration lanes they would like to have. They will start having to pull behind buildings to park. They may have to look for a minute to find a parking space instead of having hundreds of empty spaces in every parking lot. Are the changes we’re talking about just being suggested out of spite? Are we walkability advocates picking on drivers and purposefully trying to make things tough for them? No, all of the sacrifices I’ve mentioned above are truly going to be necessary to create safe places for walking. And the small sacrifices just aren’t that big of a deal for a car driver. These changes we’re talking about however are going to be a huge deal in regards to pedestrian safety. Is it worth costing the car a few extra seconds to go around the back of a building to park if it means that our kids can walk to school or to soccer practice without fearing for their lives?
Walkable places lift us all. They are vastly more pleasant places to live and to visit. And for so many reasons, building walkable places is just the right thing to do. Each of us at one time or another in our daily and weekly activities is going to be a pedestrian. Even if it’s just walking from your car to your office or into the store. Let’s do all of us a favor and let the pedestrians live! Pull the foot off of the gas pedal a little, look out for pedestrians when you’re driving. Slow down a little and enjoy the drive. Let’s be willing to make some small sacrifices to save a life. It really is not that hard!