27 June 2009

A Walking Rant!

UPDATE: Less than an hour after publishing this piece, the Baltimore Police inform us of the following:

PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT: Frankford/Sinclair Ln-Adult female seriously injured when struck by motorist. BPD investigating.

In Baltimore, Walk At Your Own Risk

My love hate relationship with this place is growing deeper. Something as simple as stepping out to get some exercise could end up being a walk on the wild side.

If you live in one of the more exclusive Baltimore enclaves, things may be a bit different. This brings up another one of my big gripes; the tale of two Baltimores. One for the privileged, the monied, the ruling class, the other for the rest of us unfortunate unlucky souls. But that’s another story all to itself, so I’ll spare you for now.

An avid physical fitness buff, I enjoy frequent walking and running. I’ve done this all around the world. Whenever I travel, even in a layover, one of the first things I try to do is explore my surroundings on two feet. Walking if I’m particularly unenergetic, or not wearing the right clothes, and running when I really feel like covering some ground and I’m properly attired.

Leaving my house, if I walk to the right, or I walk to the left, I immediately pass where people have been killed. Not a comfortable feeling, trust me, you can never get it out of your head. Trotting down the busted up sidewalks, dodging piles of litter, keeping an eye out for the teaming population of aggressive rats, I’m careful not to trip or stub my toe. Falling on a pile of broken glass, or worse, a hypodermic needle could leave a mark. Baltimore has some of the highest property taxes in Maryland, looking at our sidewalks and or streets, you wonder; where does all the money go?

Out the neighborhood and on the main road, my encyclopedic memory flashes a mental popup whenever I pass places where others have loss their lives. Like a combat zone, violence is all around. Anyone choosing to ignore this is simply living in denial. From robberies gone bad, to standing around waiting to catch a bus, it’s easy to lose your life in Baltimore. Even just going out for a walk.

Crossing a street in Baltimore requires a special skill set not highly developed in most humans. Despite having a walk signal, you still have to be wary of turning cars or (gasp) red light runners! Drivers here think nothing of clipping a walker. Some cars have gotten so close, it felt as if my legs were getting some new form of hair removal called the auto(mobile) rub off!

Is it any wonder that many pedestrians just dart out in the middle of the streets? It’s probably an act of open rebellion. Forget a cross walk, on coming traffic, let’s play chicken. The adversarial relationship between those on foot and people behind the wheels of automobiles is so bad, the police deployed special patrols just to monitor cross walks downtown. Talk about walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I do it everyday!



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