I am a cyclist and a walker, and I also drive a car. I have always been in favor of complete streets in Spokane, but today I realized how important they really are.
I had back surgery two days ago, and it is important for my physical healing (and mental health) that I walk a mile or so each day. My husband, Steve, and I walked the few blocks from our house to the post office and grocery store. I am not yet allowed to drive and sitting in a car is uncomfortable, so my only option is to walk. When we were ready to cross Grand Ave at thirty second, there were no lines on the street, but we were on a corner with cut-outs for wheel chairs, which seemed like a safe place to cross. We slowly began to enter the street and there was plenty of time for the on-coming cars to see us and stop. In the first lane, a huge car would not slow down, and while Steve stood in front of it with his arms outstretched, the driver tried to swerve around him and drove off calling Steve several obscenities. In the next lane, a car rolled slowly toward us and never did make a complete stop as we tried to hurry enough to make it across.
So why are complete streets vital? Because I am in a place today that all of us will encounter someday. I can’t go fast, can’t jump out the way, and can’t turn and run back to where I started. I am fortunate as I will be walking fast and biking again very soon, but there are many elderly and disabled citizens who have to endure this treatment every day. Without an emphasis on complete streets, we are asking them to either stay home for fear of cars, or venture out and say a little prayer each time they need to cross a busy street.