Sunday, June 15, 2008

Carlessly Negotiating a Parking Lot

Ever tried to walk to the store? One of the things I like about my neighbourhood is the amenities within walking distance. On my way home from the park I thought I'd walk over to the drug store to see if they had a Wii Fit. Video games at a drug store, you say? Never mind.
It seems simple enough. The boy sits on his tricycle while I steer from behind. I seemed to ignore the fact that the Shopper's Drug Mart is on the far side of a big parking lot that some urban planner thought made sense. It makes sense if your in a car, but to a pedestrian, especially one with a stroller or other child-wheeling device, this parking lot is a nightmare.
Why would it occur to the planner of a parking lot to think about people arriving by foot, or even walking from one store to the other. Are feet only for accelerators now? On one side, the sidewalk goes right past the plaza with no walking entrance. I would have to dodge traffic in the lane or walk all the way around where there are a few token level ramps on a sidewalk-island that leads to, surprise, the other sidewalk-island. Of course to get to the store, you have to negotiate an ten-inch curb. Not easy with a stroller or a toddler on a tricycle. I can just imagine the planner picturing the pedestrians doing laps back and forth on the island on his layout while cars whiz by to actually do shopping. Hmm... pedestrians sure are, well, pedestrian. Those clever people in cars are brilliantly whiz right past them.
So, I managed to dodge the two thirds of drivers who don't care to notice the heartbeat-powered travellers on their parking lots thanks to the one-third who care enough to stop and let a man with a toddler cross in front of them. I walked past rows of idling cars, waiting for their pampered master to arrive, empty or with one air-conditioned occupant, and couldn't help thinking like we're doomed to expend all the oil we can without even taking a second thought. I just don't think most people get it. Gas is approaching a dollar-forty. Your conveyance is hurting your bottom line and you leave it idling so that we don't have to spend more than 20 seconds without airconditioning.
It's not just the minds we have to change, the attitude is built right into the infrastructure. We've cemented our fate with ten-inch curbs.
Realizing this, I seriously hope the debunkers of Peak Oil are right -
As I suspected they were sold out, so I'm going to have to drive somewhere to get my Wii Fit so I can exercise in private.

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