I'm not new to talking, sharing ideas, or stating my opinion, especially stating my opinion! After all, I taught elementary school for 30 years! However, my audience has typically been smaller,just family, the classroom, or just talking to myself!

My blog has two goals: be an outlet for sharing thoughts on writing children's books and the path to publication (got my fingers crossed that I'll get there) and a place to chronicle my journey of losing my sight. Sometimes I imagine these two paths will overlap .

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Sorry I've been out of pocket. My social activism has crept out again. The city I live in has formed a committee to develop a community-wide transit plan. When I hear "transit," I think bus service or rail service. Apparently this town thinks it means traffic, cars, roads, bike paths, and sidewalks- in that order. Oh, and then MAYBE bus service.

Can you say discouraging????

I sat and listened to the presentation, with it's emphasis on road reorganization in order to relieve congestion. I realize that many people  find that traffic congestion leads to indigestion. However, their indigestion doesn't come close to the fear I felt hearing that the leading concept, to alleviate the problem, was to replace traffic light intersections with roundabouts!                                                                           

Here's the image that popped into my head. 
A carnival or fair with a shooting gallery booth. There are the sweet, little yellow ducks moving past and customers trying to knock them down. Of course, occasionally, there's either a white duck or a brown duck that slips in. You get more points if you knock over the oddball duckie. 

In case you haven't figured it out yet, pedestrians crossing the roundabout sidewalks are the yellow ducks. Guess who's the oddball duck?????  
Try visually impaired me, or maybe someone in a motorized wheelchair.

When they asked for questions or comments, I raised my hand. I said I realized the community was primarily a commuting community, and I was all for an environmentally-friendly place with bike paths and plenty of sidewalks. But I wanted them to know they were leaving out a portion of the community, those individuals who relied on wheelchairs and were visually impaired, such as myself. I stated for the record that roundabouts are dangerous for pedestrians with disabilities. I further said that the purpose of a roundabout was to keep the traffic flowing or moving and eliminate congestion. Cars turning off the roundabout wouldn't be happy to slow down for "normal" pedestrians so why believe they'd stop for those with disabilities? I mentioned that I practiced crossing streets at one of those intersections, with a sighted instructor and my white cane. On two, count them, 1, 2 occasions, cars turned in front of me WHILE I WAS ALREADY IN THE CROSSWALK WITH MY WHITE CANE EXTENDED!! On both occasions, I had the green light, not a yellow one and it had just turned green. These people were not paying attention; they were in a hurry, and I bet they were probably on a cell phone. 

If my instructor had not grabbed my arm- you see, mobility training when you still have sight needs to be done with your eyes closed; try that in a busy intersection to feel REAL fear- I would have been hit. I decided right then the next time a car pulls out in front of me while I'm in a crosswalk, I'm picking up the cane and smacking it on the hood or trunk of that car. The driver needs to feel some fear as well.

Anyway, back to the planning meeting...
The presenter acknowledged my point, which was followed by a brief discussion in which he stated  the intersection I was referring to was actually NOT one where they'd recommend a roundabout. (Big woop, that doesn't quell the danger at other intersections being considered.)

As the meeting ended and the audience was invited to look over the display boards outlining suggested changes, first a woman and then a man came to me and stated they were from local newspapers, one just online, the other in print as well as online. They wanted to quote me by name and asked for my phone number or email if they needed further information. You bet I gave them the info and said I was always willing to give them an opinion.

A quiet activist I'm not. Standing up for myself, and others, is important to me. I'm not thrilled about having a disability. Okay, in truth, it stinks sometimes. But if I have to deal with it, acknowledge it, live with it, I expect to have all the same rights and privileges as any other citizen in my community.

My dad, may he rest in peace, was a big believer in standing up for oneself. True, he probably was a little quieter, maybe a little calmer about it than I am. But he was not a pushover. And I know he would be proud of me for embracing this challenge and making sure my life is a full as it can in spite of it. Thanks, Dad, I feel your support. I won't back down.

1 comment:

  1. Your commitment to standing up for what you believe is inspirational. It takes a lot of courage!

    Also, I didn't find you easily (your blog isn't linked on your Blogger profile), but I looked you up and found your blog linked on your bio of your website! I'm so glad I found you, too. Looks like you have a lot of great things to say.