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

Kelley C Smith smithkc at riskiii.com
Thu Apr 3 19:35:27 UTC 2014

Almost three years ago, I was concerned about lack of signals and lack of enforcement of traffic laws in my neighborhood (cars turning without signaling while pedestrians cross street, etc.) and I called the police department about the enforcement question (non-emergency number). I had an interesting conversation with the person (not sure whether or not she was an officer or just an employee) who answered. 

During the course of the conversation, I said something like, "I realize that if I walk in Oklahoma City, I am implicitly choosing to accept more risk…" and the lady on the phone stopped me. She said, "You are not taking on more risk just because you choose to walk…after all, someone's car could be damaged." At this point, I was really astounded. I wondered if my moral sensibilities were so hopelessly out of whack that I failed to see that a broken bone, massive head injury, or premature death is morally equivalent to a dented bumper. I can only hope that the majority of police officers and department employees have more wisdom than the person I talked with….

And, Bob, WELL SAID!

Kelley Smith

On Apr 3, 2014, at 1:03 PM, <sjpratt at kanokla.net> wrote:

> 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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> Ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org
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