Yesterday a man was walking down the street outside our apartment. He was blind, and we ended up helping him find the store around the corner as he had gotten mixed up over where he was.
The corridor I live near is like many state roads in Michigan: car-oriented, the main way of getting most places, no sidewalks, lots of McDonalds and chains, connections to the highways. MDOT is making a sincere effort to get sidewalks and crosswalks on these kinds of streets, as residential development has become denser adjacent to them. As a person who lives a block away from this corridor, I live within 1/4 mile of many fastfood restaurants, a superstore, auto-repair shops, and even a secretary of state. You’d think I’d be able to walk to these places, and having been raised to be efficient with my resources, I would like to walk to them. But it’s just dangerous.
I can’t imagine not having a car out here. Okay, fine. To live out here, you have to have a car. This is America, after all. What about blind friend John? The only affordable housing in Ann Arbor is outside of Ann Arbor, where things are not walkable. What do the handicapped do?
What do the handicapped do? Or those who cannot afford a car?
Probably the first step to equal opportunity for all is …equal accessibility for all. People being able to physically get to places without loads of difficulty might help them get where they want to go.
I don’t care how small of a minority of people fit into the ADA description. It could be one person. We still have to take care of that person. But it happens to be millions.
Don’t get me started on the lack of even beginnings of progress on mentally disabled access. How does this fit into access to sidewalks and transit? I can already think of implications for those with Aspergers and Autism of riding transit and walking busy streets.
We build this world for us. Not for cars. Not for what’s cheap and profitable at the time. Though building for people has proven to be profitable, though not cheap. Who could expect it to be?