“Imagine navigating our sidewalks while blind or in a wheelchair.”
Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight good comments in order to inspire more of them. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves recognition.
The last I looked, our story on the bike racks installed to prevent camping had received 265 comments. They came down all over the place, it was kind of a free-for-all of frustration that spared nobody, and I have read them all—the whole thread a few times through.
As you can imagine with 265 comments, several of them deserved to be “comment of the week,” but we only pick one. The comment we chose held up really well over multiple readings. MaxD’s exhortation to consider all sidewalk users—the blind, the disabled, the impoverished—has the characteristics of good persuasive writing. It was intimate, conversational, and empathetic. Rather than shouting “I’m angry, now I’m really really angry,” it persuaded the reader to look at things in a different way, the way maxD sees them. This style of writing can get people thinking and maybe even change someone’s view. It appealed to other people too, with the comment receiving 105 likes.
Here’s what maxD wrote:
This seems like a fine solution. I found this write-up a bit heavy handed—implying this is not neighborly, calling People for Portland [a] “dark money group.”
Regardless, this is undoubtedly an attempt to keep our public space clear. That may be detrimental to a handful of people who seek to occupy it at the exclusion of everyone else, but it is a win for people using mobility devices, people who have reduced vision, anyone wanting to use the sidewalk, people biking. The homeless crisis is desperate, but our public realm is being assaulted, and campers are being given a pass to claim public space, most significantly at the expense of the working poor and the people experiencing a disability. I find it very privileged to imply that sidewalks should be allowed to be closed at random for long periods of time. If you you are able bodied and can walk or bike in the street or cross the road mid block, it is not that big of a deal. Imagine navigating our sidewalks while blind or in a wheelchair. Imagine relying on transit/bike/sidewalk and local parks for recreation because you cannot afford a car.
IMO, a fair critique of Schnitzer is that they bank property, sometimes keeping them in poor condition and neglect to activate them or redevelop them. However, it [is] asking a lot for someone to do more with a space when for long stretches of the last couple [years], the space was unable to be accessed. That sidewalk and bike lane were completely occupied—how is [a] commercial real estate agent supposed to show prospective tenants that space? Schnitzer is far from perfect, but this seems like a civic benefit and an act of neighborliness to me.
Thank you maxD, we appreciate you being part of the conversation.