For the past two nights I’ve taken the bus to the Dougherty Arts Center where Julie is rehearsing for Loaded Gun Theory’s production of Little Murders. I’ve bundled up Stella and her stroller, and we’ve taken the bus the rest of the way home. Last night things were crazy. It was one of those traffic days. You have an inkling of these days when you’re a driver, but they’re much more apparent when you’re a pedestrian. People were running lights. There was lots of backed up traffic for no reason. People were making U-Turns in the middle of busy roads. That sort of thing.
So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I had trouble crossing Barton Springs. I walked with the signal and got half way across the road. At this point cars turning left are unprotected. They see me in the middle of the street and don’t attempt to turn left. You know, because I have the right of way and all that. But last night a car turned in front of me. No big deal, I figured that one car just didn’t see me and the neon green stroller I was pushing. But then another car went. Then another. Six cars. The last one was a Mini. I was figuring, surely the Mini won’t leave me stranded out here in the middle of the road. It turned too. I still made it across the street in time, and there was a concrete median I could have hung out on if I hadn’t made it in time, so I wasn’t in danger.
I disliked being a driver in a world where most people don’t know the traffic laws, but it sucks even more to be a pedestrian.
The reason I had to pick up Stella was that my mom went to the city meeting where they discussed the plans for improving Westgate and Davis. They have lots of interesting ideas (and some that would be horrible). One of the poorer plans would be having Westgate be a 4 lane road, while Davis intersects it as 2 lanes with no middle turn lane. I can only imagine how backed up that would get.
So my mom was talking about the meeting, and she said, “They don’t really need sidewalks on both sides of Davis. No one I know of ever uses that sidewalk.” I demanded, “Who said that?” She said, “I did. That was my comment. That we don’t need sidewalks on both sides of Davis. They should just extend the sidewalk on the south side.” I nearly spit out my dinner, “You don’t know anyone who takes that sidewalk? I take that sidewalk every single morning to walk to the bus! I have to jaywalk across the road at the top of a fairly blind hill, then cross again at the light.” She mentioned that she thought I took the trail. My mom, while frequently going on recreational walks, is definitely not a pedestrian.
The Grand Oaks trail does indeed go from Davis Lane to Manchaca. But the first place you can get off the trail onto a real sidewalk is almost equidistant between two southbound bus stops. You have to backtrack about 1/8 of a mile to get to the light. And that’s just if you want to take the #3 route. If you want to take the #103 there is currently no sidewalk or trail to get there. Which is one of the reasons I don’t take it.
Sometimes you realizes why representative democracy is really important. Otherwise we’d have all sorts of crazy roads and sidewalks that didn’t go anywhere. A patchwork of ideas that were good for one person or another, but don’t connect in any meaningful way.