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

sjpratt at kanokla.net sjpratt at kanokla.net
Thu Apr 3 18:03:48 UTC 2014


Good for you, Bob!   There are too many places with no sidewalks anymore, and it is unsafe for children or anybody else who needs to get from place to place.   The streets are unsafe enough if you’re inside a motor vehicle, and there is little or no enforcement if a pedestrian, bicyclist or disabled person is hit.


Sylvia

Newkirk



Sent from Windows Mail



From: Bob Waldrop
Sent: ‎Wednesday‎, ‎April‎ ‎2‎, ‎2014 ‎11‎:‎54‎ ‎PM
To: mayor at okc.gov; ward1 at okc.gov; ward2 at okc.gov; ward6 at okc.gov; okc at lists.sustainableokc.org; ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org

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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