A couple of weeks ago I was walking home from the rental car place after returning a car. It’s about a two mile walk and along the way I thought about transportation. Part of the reason I was walking was that I missed the Metro 200 bus by about a minute so it was going to be a half-hour wait for the next bus. This minor frustration made me think of all the other minor frustrations associated with any method of transportation other than getting in your car and driving.
It occurred to me that these small things make a big difference in our choices of how to get around. So as I walked I tried to see small impediments to my walking and think about how they might be removed. That bench would be a nice place to rest only it’s covered with moss and blackberry brambles. I could cross this street if only the crossing signal button worked. It would be easier to get to that grocery store if there had been a sidewalk included in this parking lot.
A lot of these things are theoretically the responsibility of the city’s maintenance and design staff. But I have talked to some of those people and I know that they are all overworked and overwhelmed. Walking and cycling are sort of fringe concerns when you’re designing a road intersection or a shopping center. There just aren’t enough of us to make the effort worthwhile.
I thought about getting the city switchboard on speed dial on my phone so I could bring these things to their attention as I see them. But I can see where that’s going to lead. “Oh no, it’s Youngstrom on the phone again with another crossing button on the fritz.” Some of the things I could just fix. It would be easy to go clean off that bench. But some require either help from the city or vigilance in design reviews.
So I thought about how I could keep from being a simple annoyance. What I came up with was that if I was a representative of a group who share my concerns about non-motorized transportation then my gripes might hold more weight. And if there was a group, maybe I wouldn’t be the only one complaining. But there isn’t a group.
You see where this is going? I decided to form a group. I thought about it for a while and the thoughts had that fun sparkly feeling about them. Ideas kept coming. I kept jotting them down. Pretty soon I had a big pile of thoughts and I was still excited about it. Me. Excited. Clearly this is something I should pursue.
So I came up with a name with a cool acronym. It’s GAIT for Getting Around Issaquah Together. I registered a domain: http://gettingaroundissaquah.org/ and today I put a blog there. For now it’s just me. I’ll use the blog to talk about my ideas for what the group should be and do. I’ll talk about my initial forays into addressing those small issues that make walking and biking harder than it should be. If more people are interested then maybe I’ll take the next step and make it a real organization.
If you want to watch me stumble down this new path then add http://gettingaroundissaquah.org/ to your reading list.