This is a bit of a rambling about how people get along in cars here and how local pubs could play a role in making the city more pedestrian friendly, however the thoughts aren’t fully put together in any kind of real thesis. This was basically a free-write of my thoughts. I also want to say that even though I mention Portland, Oregon a lot I don’t think Colorado Springs should become like Portland, that’s not what I’m trying to say, but my experiences there have made me think about the way other cities organize their space.
According to Google Maps when I lived in Portland I lived a 10 minute walk away from the shop where I usually bought my beer. Now, if I was feeling like getting something really special, I would walk a total of 45 minutes to Belmont Station, a specialty beer shop. Well actually, half the time I would do the 45 minute walk, the other half the time I would drive. In Colorado Springs I live exactly a 20 minute walk from Coaltrain Liquors but I have never walked there, I’ve only driven. I value walking, and try to do it as much as I can, in fact I’ve been walking an hour and a half to work a couple times a week now that it started getting hotter out. But, what is it about this 1 mile, this 20 minutes of walking that I’ve never been able to muster up the energy to walk my way down to Coaltrain? It must have something to do with the city planning of this city?
City planning, that’s all I can really boil it down to. In Portland, I was used to walking by loads of other pedestrians and bicyclists on my way to the shop and so not only was it encouraging to walk, it was also socially friendly and fun to do so. Here, I don’t walk by one single store on my way to Coaltrain’s, except for the 7-11, which is about 100 feet away. One whole mile and not a single store or shop! That’s crazy. This city does not foster a walking mentality; the organization of the city itself does not lend itself to being outside and taking a stroll. Someone once commented on this blog that They were proud because this state is not overtaken by big box stores and that there are a lot of small independent stores. Sure, in clusters this is so, but there are 3 Walmarts in the city limits, and a whole bunch that are in nearby towns. This city was built with cars in mind, but I wish it was different. People are made to drive here, there’s no way around it, and even when you’re as little as one mile from your local beer shop you still feel compelled to drive because there’s not a whole lot of good city planning or friendly faces or friendly-kind drivers along the way.
Generally, I feel like people in cars are out to get me. As I step onto the street I hear people put the petal to the metal rather than slowing down for me to cross the street. I get honked at and I see people visibly angry when they are slowed down by my presence, even if I’m crossing the street and I have a cross signal. The world was made for walking in, not driving on, but people can’t seem to figure that out. If you pay attention, you will notice that people often frantically jog or run across crosswalks here in order to not slow down other cars. What’s wrong with strolling through the crosswalk and letting them wait an extra five seconds? This fear for your life is something that often deters me from wanting to take some of the simplest and shortest of walks.
I can say that when I go to Brewer’s Republic, my local and regular watering hole, I walk 17 minutes there and 17 minutes back. It’s a bit of a nuisance to have to walk that long just to go have a couple pints but I suppose it’s better than what most people in this city can say about their local pub. But in actuality I don’t mind walking to Brewer’s, it must be that along the way I’m basically heading through downtown and there are usually a few other people walking around, there are shops to look at, and interesting things going on along the way. Also, another reason is that I don’t want to drink and drive. It’s only 17 minutes of my life each way.
I prefer to walk over taking my bike because the roads feel very dangerous on my bike. I’ve had smart asses who think it’s funny to honk and speed by me at high speeds while getting as close to me as possible, I’ve been run off the road, I’ve been yelled at and I’ve had things thrown at me while I’m riding my bike. What’s people’s deal?
This city needs to foster a better pedestrian and bicycle friendly attitude, encouraging people to be outside of their cars, encouraging people to not be so damn angry in their cars. I think the city needs to have more neighborhood centric pubs so that people won’t be driving across town to drink with friends and then drive home afterward. Everyone who lives in the city limits really should have a pub within walking distance from their house.