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Thoughts for Thursday – When Ridiculous Rules Make Life Much Harder

June 17, 2010 · 18 comments

in Thoughts For Thursday

Where I live, there is a major street called Woodward Avenue.  This street goes from Downtown Detroit and cuts through many suburbs to the north.

Well, the other day, I was driving north on Woodward in the city of Bloomfield Hills, and there was a pedestrian walking against traffic in my lane, presumably coming from the bus stop and heading toward work.  I have seen this countless times as the school my children go to is on Woodward Avenue.   When I first saw a pedestrian walking in the street on Woodward, I was mad at them because it is very unnerving to drive by someone walking in your lane when you are driving at 50 miles an hour, especially in the winter.  I was thinking ‘why doesn’t this person walk on the sidewalk, geez!’.  However, when I glanced to the sidewalk, I saw there wasn’t one.  Along the road is a strip of ‘grass’, which is really overgrown plants and such and is mowed once in awhile.  In the winter, there really isn’t anywhere for people to walk that isn’t in the street.  Part of the reason why there is not a walkway is because people in this affluent community have fought against sidewalks, and bus stops for that matter.  The entire city is sidewalk and bus stop free.  When I asked why sidewalks were not allowed along a major street, I was told there was a variety of reasons such as “We don’t want to make it easier for people to access our community”, “we like the beautification that the greenery provides”, “we don’t want to encourage people to walk along the major streets” etc.  I couldn’t believe it.   People are going to walk along this street whether there are sidewalks there or not.  This is because there is a bus stop across the street from where Bloomfield Hills ends.  That means people have to go to a bus stop further away from where they really need to go since the city forbids bus stops, and they have to walk in the street part of the way to get to their place of employment within the city of Bloomfield Hills.   Since when does safety get tossed aside for ‘beauty’?  It really just breaks my heart when I see people walking in the freezing cold and snow just trying to get to their job.  Why would a community want to make it harder for people to make a living??

Sure sidewalks are expensive, and they may not be as beautiful as some scraggly plants.  However, nothing should come before safety.

Do you know of any similar rules where you live?  Rules that make no sense, and can actually harm people?  I have always been frustrated with subdivisions that don’t allow things like basketball poles, but to me, forcing people to walk in a busy street is reprehensible.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Young Mogul June 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

No sidewalks in those communities is just another way of saying “we want to keep the poor people out”. I read an article on the Yahoo that stated the “real cost of poverty”. That stated some of the things you said…it pointed out that the poor pay more in their time for things such as transportation by catching the bus; traveling to the laundry mat, etc.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any rules that just grind my gears….

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Kris June 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Young Mogul: You are completely right. On a slightly different note, I was talking with someone who was telling me how they had to get their dad in the car to get him to the hospital because he was having a heart attack. Someone said ‘you should have called 911’. She laughed and said her dad would never live long enough to wait for an ambulance to arrive in Detroit. It is just awful.

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Diane June 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I have been very overwhelmed lately and have gotten out of my regular routines. I spent a few minutes last night catching up on your blogs and just wanted to say thanks for all of your great posts! They always make me smile, reevaluate my thoughts on a topic, or realize that I have got to start using coupons!

It is crazy how hard life is for someone who uses public transportation to try to make a living and raise a family. The Metro Detroit area should be ashamed for their lack of public transportation. Communities like Bloomfield Hills may intend to be “keeping the poor out”, but they are really holding the entire area down since their policies keep people from being employed – just a perpetual cycle where nothing improves.

I wish I had a solution that would enhance the entire Metro Detroit area but I have a summer cold and can’t think deeply today:)

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Kris June 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Diane – Thank you so much for your nice comments.

I too am sick of the lack of mass-transit in the area, and I don’t know if it will ever change. It is so hard to see people want to do well and make some money, and there are obstacles everywhere.

I have a horrible cold too. I may need some Panera. Feel better!

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Frugal Babe June 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm

That is so sad. I walk or bike almost everywhere I go, and we take our son with us in the bike trailer or in his little red wagon. The elementary school where he’ll eventually go is about a ten minute walk from our house, and of course that’s how he’ll get to school (or by bike, if he prefers). But I know there are a lot of parents on our street who drive their kids to school. How in the world have we gotten to a point where people not only want to drive everywhere, but they want to keep other people from walking?!

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Kris June 17, 2010 at 12:44 pm

FB – I envy your ability to walk or bike most places in your community. Around here, I feel I am risking my life when crossing major intersections. Especially since people never seem to check for pedestrians when they turn right on red.

I walked or biked everywhere when I was a kid, and so did everyone else. Too bad communities are not set up with this in mind.

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Money Reasons June 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

I would hate to driving 50 and someone walking at me! I’m the type of buy that like to go way over into the other lane to avoid the person walking, and to give them a sense of relief.

I think that would cause me to avoid that area as much as possible!

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Kris June 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

MR- I wish I could avoid the area, but I cannot. I made the point to my husband about being forced to suddenly change lanes because you definitely don’t want to get too close to the pedestrians. Just dangerous all-around.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 17, 2010 at 11:58 pm

That is reprehensible! When we bought our house in a neighborhood without sidewalks, we thought it wouldn’t matter since we don’t have kids and don’t go outside much anyway. Yeah, I seem to have forgotten that other people have kids. It’s like being the car in “Frogger” when I get home. I think I drive about 5 miles an hour just so I don’t kill someone’s baby. Whoever decided sidewalks were unnecessary must have been childless too…and slightly idiotic (I know that’s how I feel when I think of my initial “whatever” attitude).

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Kris June 18, 2010 at 7:51 am

I totally don’t understand the ‘no sidewalk’ thing either. I also don’t understand how they are ‘optional’, unless you live in a rural community.

I do have kids, and the house I chose needed to have a sidewalk. How else were the kids going to learn how to ride a bike? 🙂 Plus, I can’t imagine pushing a stroller just in the street. Too many drivers out there that do not pay attention.

Thanks for the visit!

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Mike - Saving Money Today June 18, 2010 at 11:01 am

It does seem pretty insensitive that they care more about retaining their “exclusivity” than they do about people’s lives. Perhaps things would change if a few influential residents or council members had their car break down and were forced to walk that stretch of road just once with cars barreling towards them.

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Kris June 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Mike – You are very right. If some of the wealthy members of the community had to actually take a bus and walk in a major road during a snow storm, their perspective may change dramatically. Or maybe not, which is even scarier.

Elitism drives me insane, and that’s exactly what this seems to be. I saw someone walking along the road this morning dressed in a suit and carrying a bunch of totes, probably work items. So sad.

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EngineerMom September 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

New to your blog!

I’m a confirmed walker – my husband and I only own one car, and he usually takes it to work. We chose our house because of its proximity to libraries, the Y, school, etc. I have a 2-year-old son. Many of the streets in our neighborhood don’t have sidewalks, including the one we live on, but its a pretty quite neighborhood, so I don’t feel unsafe walking on the street most of the time. It was a bit of a hassle to maneuver through the neighborhood to avoid this one stretch of major road that didn’t have a sidewalk for a while, but thankfully, they finally put one in! I typically walk 5-6 miles per day – it’s 2 miles to the Y, another 0.75 to one of two libraries I can reach on foot, and there are grocery stores and a big mall (for indoor walking and playing when it’s really hot or cold) within 1 mile of our house.

The best way to change the lack of walkability in a neighborhood is to get involved in the community – get people out and walking, talk to your city council, raise awareness, encourage your friends and neighbors to step away from their cars.

Until there are enough people out walking and enough bikes on the roads, the general public won’t change. We used to live in Minnesota, where it was second nature to check your right side mirror before turning right for any bikes coming up on the side of the road. Now we live in Cincinnati, where I have had a friend actually get her butt slapped by a passing motorist while she was out riding! yeah, this new city needs some work. 😉

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Kris September 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

Hello, and thank you for visiting!

It is great that you walk so much everyday- kudos to you! I imagine you can walk more in Cincinnati than Minnesota with the somewhat warmer weather there.

The suburbs here just were not built well for walking/bike riding unfortunately. Even if there was a bike lane on the road here I would be terrified to use it. My butt would probably end up slapped by a car instead of by a sassy motorist!

I do think if cities were built more conducive to walking/riding, then people would be healthier, and there would be a greater sense of community.

Great comments!

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Marketing Automation February 10, 2012 at 3:40 am

Don’t cry because it’s over smile because it happened.

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