I work in Boston. It’s cool. But you know what’s not cool? Being a pedestrian in a driver’s intersection. Either you have to sit and wait for a million years for the “WALK” signal to let you cross, or you have to take your chances and hope any unseen cars will stop as you technically or actually jay-walk. It’s a sad, sad game. Of course, this game is played across the nation. So why am I blogging about it?
Because one of the intersections I have to cross to get to and from work could and should probably be called ableist.
For those of you who follow this blog and are thinking, “What the hell is ableism and why should I care?” ableism is discrimination against people on the basis of disability (as opposed to race, sex, religion, sexuality, gender, class, and so on). What we thinking of as “disability” includes needing a wheelchair, but it also includes people with chronic illnesses and other issues. According to my place of work, I’m disabled (but they don’t know it because I’m not required to tell them about my chronic illness, hahahahaha, suckers).
So, how is this particular intersection I’m thinking of an ableist one (or, I should say, the people who are in charge of how the lights and signals are ignorant and ableist in the process)?
Believe it or not, it takes LONGER than the “WALK” signal and subsequent timer to get across the entire intersection to the other side of the street. And this crosswalk has a ton of pedestrian traffic. The one time I even came close to crossing all the way in one signal was when I was already starting to cross before the walk signal, and then RAN across the street (I was about to miss a train; wouldn’t you run?). I still ended up almost getting clipped by a car.
What’s wrong with a signal that’s not long enough, besides we might all die trying to cross when the signal says, “DON’T WALK?” I’m able-bodied enough when it comes to walking and running. But that’s because I haven’t recently broken a leg. I don’t use a wheelchair. I don’t walk slowly because my knee never recovered from multiple surgeries I’ve had.
I could also say that the intersection designers/signal people are sexist because it is DAMN hard to cross in comfortable shoes, but I would get flattened by a truck if I ever tried to cross in heels. But eh, I’ll draw the line at ableism for now.
Meanwhile, if anyone has info on how to contact who’s in charge of that signal, please let me know so I can call them and tell them to make the signal longer (if they don’t believe me, I’ll dare them to cross while not powerwalking/running/using a jet-pack).
But it makes me wonder; if this is the first time I’ve encountered an intersection where the signal isn’t long enough for me to cross while power-walking, how many signals aren’t long enough for people to cross while limping? Walking slowly? Using a wheelchair?