17 November 2011

Seventeen: Sliding Sideways

I'd hate to start looking all Pollyanna about this next point, but I am forced to acknowledge that there is an upside to the construction on my block, even in connection with winter.

When the rather narrow space on which this too-tall building is being built was mere land, someone used it as a place to park. While the city has done a good job on clamping down on unauthorized parking spots, there was an accommodation built into the sidewalk that helped the cars to pass that was not immediately done away with.

I am, of course, talking about the driveway entrance slope built across the entire sidewalk to help the cars get to the street without scraping their undersides on the curb. These things are hell on pedestrians and — as you can see from the diagram — on people in wheelchairs whose forward progress is suddenly challenged by a sudden slope to the side.

In winter, the challenge is even greater. If the sidewalk plows don't manage to get all the frozen precipitation off (and they can't when there is a sudden and uneven dip in the sidewalk) or if the latest precipitation has been freezing rain, the car accommodation in the sidewalk becomes a severe hazard for the foot- or wheelchair bound individual. You might have your travel interrupted by an embarrassing fall or a tipping over of your chair, or you may just be hurled against the car parked in the street next to this unfortunate element of urban terrain.

When that happens, I always hope to go chains first into the offender. But I also hope no one sees me fall!

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