Home Letters Continuous sidewalks are a good fit for us
I do not believe that we, as a society, are on the same page, especially when it comes to the use of our roadways. Alfred Bhulai, in a recent letter, pointed out that vehicle owners believe themselves to possess an unassailable right to the space when they are in their own mode of transport.
I myself drive a car when I move around, and I tend to agree that this is the attitude of many who drive. I have taken the bus for most of my commuting life, and as it is said in Guyana, I know how to handle the ‘rockings’.
Walking along inhospitable passages to get to transit stops; navigating chaotic walkways and obstacles; having to contort your body to get in and out of minibuses, are things that are not ideal. As a driver, I observe a certain respect for people walking, and when I think about urban planning, I consider the truth, that not everyone has to own a car.
I have noticed there is a sentiment in Georgetown that the destiny of all working people is that they must one day drive. I belligerently disagree with this imbalanced, elitist and materialistic sentiment by saying that that narrow view is an emanation of psychology that I believe keeps us unappreciative, without understanding, and dare I say even poor.
Editor, I do notice better sentiments coming from the more integrated among us: that there must be an optimal walkability programmed into our city designs. Imagine being able to walk to work, to school, and to play all in the same trip. This is possible for us, we have access to all of the world’s knowledge on the integrated subject of urban design. We can get so many things right with our expanding spaces, applying effective spatial design principles like road hierarchy (for controlling access to property) while we devise our own way toward becoming a super-powered cost-of-living paradise.
Using roadways in tight, close-knit inner cities like Georgetown is not so much about order and discipline as it is about interactivity and respect for different classes of road users. So, what if somebody is on a bicycle? Are they in your way? Really? Slow yourself down and share the roadway, and I say this even after a few bicycle men tried to throw their front wheels into the path of my slowly passing car to get some dineros out of me – yes, this happens. I sometimes drive with empty pockets, by the way, so don’t overthink it, bicycle boys!
Editor, that our officers have to be out on the streets for so many hours in a day, overriding the traffic lights to manage traffic, seems extenuating. It is becoming clearer to us that there is a growing need for design solutions toward a more reliable infrastructural pattern for the city. That said, I would like for a chance to shoot another suggestion, as I have in previous letters, about an innovation that I believe can enhance the charm and functionality of inner-city streets: the continuous sidewalk.
See “The Dutch Solution for Safer Sidewalks – Continuous Sidewalks” uploaded to the “Not Just Bikes” YouTube channel. The continuous sidewalk would force impatient drivers to interact with other road users, as it provides that well timed ‘interrupt’ that we need to keep our own pace in check, slowing us down, causing us to interactively share the space with people on foot, people who can now navigate with more confidence that they are safe. I also wonder what this might do for our moods.
Editor, in roundabouts; in the emphasis on designated bus stops; in the repositioning of the main fire station alongside Homestretch; in the inclusion of cycle lanes in road programming, and in the use of changing medians, I see signs of a brighter future for the city. It is beginning to step the ladder its way toward optimality. I believe persons would eventually understand that roundabouts reduce the likelihood of human error, and would save on fuel costs by keeping us moving, albeit more carefully. Learn this, I 1 of 2 say to the skeptics, learn how to INTERACT with the roadways, and stop being scared of the roundabout boogeyman! We need more roundabouts, not less. Consider the uncertainty you face at the junction even with traffic lights, with your head spinning in all directions before you move.
Human error is an increasing function of the number of steps required to carry out a decision. Allow me to say: “Let’s just slow it down, and get with the programme of a more careful and functional inner city that respects us as we move about its passages”.