January 9, 2015

I Just Want a Sidewalk!

Searching for sass.
This year's Hens on Ice tour is a mixed bag of prominent North American cities and "What state is that in again?" towns. However, lots of low-expectation towns have yielded pleasant surprises, like Lincoln and Des Moines (sorry, Fresno). Arriving into Allentown, PA, I had high hopes to be on par with Lincoln, Des Moines, or at least Moline.

My first morning in town, I followed my routine of pecking around the area to find local hot spots - coffee shops, restaurants, bars, parks, bookstores with cats, or anything similar. But in lieu of being in a downtown setting, we are a stone's throw from a major highway, the local airport, and "Condoms Galore." In spite of a different setting and planes rattling my window, I was optimistic to find some local sass in Allentown. Ten feet into the journey, I gave up on local sass and just hoped for a sidewalk.

Like many spots in the USA, Allentown has a sidewalk shortage. I'm not expecting paved sidewalks on every rural, gravel road in America, but acceptable walking pathways to get from my hotel to a Target within city limits shouldn't be a lot to ask. But it is.

Just a casual stroll.
Craving Target and adventure in Allentown, I was ready to take on the less-than-a-mile walk in spite of a snow storm and minimal walkways. Within the first minute of my walk, the sidewalk was gone, and I had to choose between the slick, probably dangerous shoulder, or the snowy, uneven, and probably dangerous grass. I slipped and flapped between the two, semi trucks roaring past, slush flying. AMERICA!

The first intersection on my path had a sign with a big red line over a walking person, implying pedestrians couldn't cross there. Cluck, I thought, the crosswalk must be on the other side of the road. I turned to cross the other road, and it had the same ominous sign. As a looked around, snow pelting my beak, I saw each place to cross had the same sign, essentially saying, No person can walk across these roads. Turn around and go home. What? It wasn't even a major intersection - a 2-lane road and an access road to Ollie's Bargain Outlet and Denney's. Did the department of transportation expect me not to cross just because they hadn't created a safe way for it? Regardless of the signs, I still needed to get from A to B on foot. So I timed the lights and cars and ran across the road, nearly falling. No time for jaywalking - it's jayrunning!

The next intersection was the same crossing situation, but bigger, with more turn lanes and a ramp involved. Between truck roars, I darted across, realizing if I slipped and fell, it would be my final Target run. But for my life, I knew that was an unacceptable way to go - on my way to the Allentown Target, dodging traffic in the slush. Tragic and humiliating, that's nothing for a tombstone!

Good luck.

The final intersection before Target had a crosswalk, but still no sidewalk. It was a step in the right direction, but almost more insulting. The department of transportation knows the intersection is busy enough for a crosswalk, and people will be crossing, but these people don't deserve sidewalks on either side. I am a human being - isn't a sidewalk an inalienable right? A prominent, big-ass, in-your-face type of first world country, always trying to lead the world, yet we can't get a proper sidewalk system? Maybe for a few months, we could take a break from all the arguing on freedom to marry, freedom to bear arms, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to be a jackass, and focus on a right to have a safe way to walk outdoors. I'm going to need to get to Target again.

Keep reading! The 2015 is coming! Well, it's here now.

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