Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Baaaaad Plaaannn

Back when all of our kids were young, my sister and brother-in-law had two ways to categorize behavior when it came to their two rambunctious boys. Was it an "accident"? Or was it a "bad plan"? I remember hearing my ever-patient brother-in-law call out, "Don't do it, Greg!" in a warning tone before one of these incidents would occur. And then, the aftermath.

"That was a baaaaad plaaannn, Greg."

This expression came to mind when I was discussing pet peeves with my local Facebook friends. I was stumped by the following:

"The general request for the need for "walkability" when no one wants to walk more than 50 feet to get into a store...or the gym."

She elaborated, "There are many, many people who like to walk, or bike around town. The people who annoy me are the ones who "claim" to want walkability and then complain when they can't get a close parking space."

Hmm...I had to think about that. It stayed in my head most of the day. It was a holiday, and there was a sale at Joann's, so I popped over to look for some bargains. I was not alone.

It was hot, and I was cranky and annoyed. And then I thought of what my friend said. "...the ones who "claim" to want walkability and then complain when they can't get a close parking space." And, right there in the hot and crowded parking lot, I had an epiphany.

This is not Walkability. This is a Baaad Plaaannn.

This particular parking lot, at Columbia Crossing on Dobbin, is a sea of concrete where walking isn't even on the menu. I believe Jessie Newburn has opined quite eloquently on this already.(http://ow.ly/oy3oA)  All one can hope for is the closest parking place. Everything else is Purgatory or Hell for pedestrians. The retail establishment and the automobile have been planned for, the walker is an afterthought.

Yes, I am certainly capable of walking this distance, even on a hot day. But that is not the point. Walkability is not simply about the ability and or desire to walk more. It is a quality of life issue. Let us improve the experience of walking as we go about our daily lives, shopping, going to work, school, community events. As long as our experience is improved only by snagging the close parking space, we continue to be mired in an outdated and moribund sea of concrete.

We are capable of making better choices. Will Columbia Crossing ever be transformed? Or will it slowly wither as newer ways to shop are planned and come to fruition--places where Walkability is central to The Plan.

Stay tuned, Columbia.

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