In San Diego, walking gets a bad rap. Just this morning about 8:30 AM, I was crossing El Cajon Blvd at one of its more awkward intersections–where the boulevard meets the 805 freeway–headed to Pancho Villa to buy some coffee to have with my breakfast. A business owner stared as I approached and waited for the WALK light to turn green. I had to wonder–does he think I’m homeless? A prostitute? Because nobody walks down this fenced off street so early in the morning. A distracted driver nearly ran me down, but stopped suddenly, startled to see a human being crossing the street on what she clearly believed was part of the freeway exit ramp. On my return, a young man joined me to cross, remarking that he had no idea people could actually walk across the street at this intersection.
As a walker and transit rider, I’m used to the dangers of a built environment designed for drivers rather than walkers.
In March, a group of walkers, moms with strollers and riders in wheelchairs organized by the City Heights Community Development Corporation’s Built Environment Team traveled through City Heights, documenting how pedestrians rank on San Diego’s rough sidewalk and streets. Their experience validates my own feelings of frustration trying to navigate our clunky streets.
“The idea is to document and experience firsthand how the built environment affects our mobility and our safety,” noted organizer Randy Van Vleck in a March 28 interview with Megan Burks for Speak City Heights, a media collaborative created to give voice to the residents of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhood.
For more, read Megan Burks’ full story here