[Ok-sus] I met a man tonight riding in a motorized wheelchair on NW Expressway

JM Branum jmb at jmbzine.com
Thu Apr 3 05:15:21 UTC 2014


Bob,
cc: OKC City Council

Can I share this online? I think the public needs to know how our metro
area cares so little for the needs of disabled veterans (or for that matter
anyone else) in the NW Expressway corridor who do not have access to a car?

Thanks,
James M. Branum
Resident of NW OKC


On Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 11:54 PM, Bob Waldrop <bob at bobwaldrop.net> wrote:

> Dear Mayor, and Councilman Greiner, Councilman Shadid, and Councilwoman
> Salyer,
>
> Mayor, you're on the list because you're the Mayor.
>
> Councilman Greiner, you're getting this because the man I met tonight
> riding in his motorized wheelchair in the right lane of NW Expressway
> eastbound, lives in your council district.
>
> Councilman Shadid, you speak for Oklahoma City's low income and
> marginalized people.
>
> Councilwoman Salyer, I live in your district, in Gatewood.
>
> I was on my way home from my job as Director of Music at the Church of the
> Epiphany on Britton west of Rockwell tonight after choir practice tonight.
> Traffic in the right lane was swerving around an obstruction in the form of
> an elderly African American in a wheel chair.  This was by the Golden
> Corral, which is actually in Warr Acres, but Mr. Smith lives in OKC and
> started his journey from the Lyrewood and Wilshire neighborhood in his
> motorized wheel chair. Why was he there? Well, as he said, "Not really a
> good reason, lonely, at home, nobody to talk to, I just wanted to get out."
> I've attached two photos I took of the situation.
>
> Eddie is a disabled American veteran.  One day in 1968 he stepped on a
> landmine in Vietnam and lost both his legs in combat.  So anyway, to make a
> long story short, with the cooperation of the Warr Acres police, we got a
> medical taxi and I paid the $50 for his fare back home with some Catholic
> Worker money I am responsible for disbursing.  So all's well that ended
> well tonight. . . except, what happens the next time he gets lonely and
> wants to go out?
>
> The Warr Acres police office told a horrendous story about a women, also
> in a wheel chair in the right lane of eastbound NW Expressway. She was hit
> by a car.  It knocked her from the street along the west side of the Golden
> Corral all the way to the Church's Chicken place on the far eastern side of
> Golden Corral. That must be at least 150 feet.  She survived, "barely" the
> officer said.
>
> Northwest Expressway has zero pedestrian amenities from where it starts,
> to where it exits Oklahoma City.  Not one inch of sidewalk. I sometimes
> take the bus to work, and get off at Lyrewood and Wilshire, and then I walk
> to 7336 West Britton Road.  It is a scary walk.
>
> I drive NW Expressway at least five days a week, two and from work, and I
> see people walking all along its length all the time.  I've seen people in
> wheel chairs trying to zoom across between McArthur and Rockwell to get to
> the other side of the road, without any pedestrian crosswalk to make their
> journey safer. A while back I followed another guy in a wheel chair going
> north on Britton, with my hazard lights flashing, until he turned onto a
> side street and then into the driveway of an apartment building.  He waved
> at me when I pulled away, glad for the shield.  I figured "well, they'll
> see me and my flashing lights and that will protect him in his little
> wheelchair.
>
> A former ODOT employee told me that ODOT could get federal funds for
> pedestrian amenities and sidewalks all along Northwest Expressway, but this
> person  said that OKC has never asked for that kind of work.  Another
> person told me she contacted her state senator, who contacted ODOT, and he
> was supposedly told that ODOT didn't want to encourage pedestrian traffic
> along NW Expressway so they would not install any pedestrian amenities.
>  Well, memo to ODOT: The pedestrians are already there, and are being
> killed with some regularity.  A lot of the people walking along the
> Expressway are kids.
>
> Northwest Expressway of course could cited in urban planning textbooks as
> an example of "what happens when you do all the wrong urban things in one
> corridor."  But does that mean we are never going to try to make it better?
>
> Some of you are proponents of spending $100 million on a downtown trolley
> that would serve the upscale but you are dragging your feet on responsible
> funding for a bus system that would serve others who aren't such upscale
> people.
>
> Some of you are constantly bragging on Oklahoma City and all we are
> accomplishing.
>
> We should remember this:
>
> Oklahoma City is a place where we care so little about disabled American
> veterans, who have given so much at the call of their country, that we
> don't provide responsible public transit, we don't provide sidewalks and
> pedestrian amenities.
>
> We can fund a convention center and "rowing amenities"   -- but we have no
> money so that Eddie, who had the great misfortune to step on a land mine
> while serving his country, can get around without exposing himself to
> horrendous danger.  I am amazed to think that he made it all the way from
> Lyrewood and Wilshire to east of MacArthur on Northwest Expressway, in his
> little motorized wheelchair.  I am sad that he couldn't take the bus and
> that there was no sidewalk for his wheelchair.
>
> It's possible, that if OKC and Warr Acres and Oklahoma County and our
> state senators and representatives really put some pressure on ODOT, they
> might do some work and it wouldn't cost the city taxpayers directly
> anything.  But if y'all don't do anything, nothing will change.
>
> Bob Waldrop
> 1524 NW 21
> Oklahoma City, OK 73106
> 405-200-8155
>
>
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>


-- 
James Matthew Branum
     * Minister of Peace & Justice - joymennonite.org
     * Writer - MilitaryLawpress.com
     * Attorney at Law - JMBranum.com
     * Pedicab Driver - OKCPedicab.com
405.494.0562 (c) 866.757.8785 (f)
PO Box 721016, Oklahoma City, OK 73172

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