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By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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On Life's Road With No Car

Uploaded: Oct 25, 2013

At some point most of us will face facts and permanently hang up the car keys. Almanac readers have offered great suggestions about how to safely manage aging and driving.

Still, as an aging person, here's a bad dream: my car breaks down, and I'm stuck at home...for the next 15 years.

This isn't all fantasy. When I am too old to safely drive, will my life be this restricted?

This question haunts many of us in suburbia. What comes after we stop driving?

If it means losing the ability to independently shop, socialize, and stay active...no wonder people resist giving up a car.

Some people stop driving, then move to retirement communities with built-in transportation. But what if you want to stay in your own home and neighborhood?

Please share your thoughts about living in our community without a car. When it's time to stop driving, what will you need to stay active and engaged? What would help most? Better transportation services? Something else?

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Louise68, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm

When it is time to stop driving because of infirmity (physical or mental or both) those of us who live in suburbs will suffer a great loss of independence, if we are not wealthy enough to live in retirement communities with excellent transportation.

Suburbs were designed around cars. There is simply no way around this fact, except to have excellent, highly-subsidized public transportation of all sorts, for everyone. Taxicabs are almost universally in poor shape mechanically and are driven by people who have not had to pass rigorous driving and background checks, and are also too expensive for many people to afford to use more than rarely.

My solution? More shuttle buses and shuttle vans, driven by people who have passed rigorous background checks and have easily passed rigorous driving tests. These vehicles would have to pass frequent mechanical inspections. It should be an honor to be allowed to drive such vans and buses.

These shuttles would be available 24/7, appointments preferred, but not required.

And present regular public transit should also be greatly expanded. Caltrain should run on BART's frequency, 7 days a week, with trains arriving no less often than 20 minutes apart, 18 hours a day, with very late departures from San Francisco and San Jose, so people can use it to get to and from events in San Francisco and San Jose (and other cities, too).

Computers could be used to help dispatchers dispatch those shuttles and vans efficiently. Oh -- and there should be plenty of vans and shuttle buses available that can easily carry wheelchair users. (Appointments preferred, but not required.)

How to fund these vital services? Tax the rich at the rates set in the past, and not the rates now. And tax all monies stashed away in offshore tax shelters. Some have estimated that more than $30 trillion has been hidden from just and fair taxation in these tax havens. And increase corporate taxes, too.

And the last -- and essential -- piece about how to fund these necessities (and others): stop all US-backed wars immediately. Trillions of dollars have been wasted on death and destruction on a huge scale. This must stop immediately, if we are to return to being a just and decent society.

There is no real cash crisis -- money is just being spent on the wrong things.

What I am advocating must be done nationwide -- and soon. This is not a problem unique to Menlo Park.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Stu Soffer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 11:19 am

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

Paul,

I don't know if it was this post or another, but it causes me to think of some of the challenges of sidewalks for the wheelchair bound - and others.

Our neighborhood has rolling curbs which look nice and residential. It's very easy to park up the curb and occasionally someone actually parks on half the sidewalk which I find very inconsiderate, to the wheelchair drivers, parents pushing strollers.

This brings up sidewalk width and how that is established for downtown MP and El Camino. On Santa Cruz Avenue some restaurants move tables to the side walk, but can create obstacles for everyone else including pedestrians. One solution is to establish wider sidewalks on El Camino and Santa Cruz which invite multiple activities safely.

Years ago on the Planning Commission I invited a blind resident to speak to the Planning Commission on their personal perspective and issues of getting around town to heighten the awareness of staff and commissioners beyond the prescribed ADA regulations.

Perhaps you would be interested in offering your comments to the PC directly.




 +  Like this comment
Posted by Stu Soffer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 11:19 am

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

Paul,

I don't know if it was this post or another, but it causes me to think of some of the challenges of sidewalks for the wheelchair bound - and others.

Our neighborhood has rolling curbs which look nice and residential. It's very easy to park up the curb and occasionally someone actually parks on half the sidewalk which I find very inconsiderate, to the wheelchair drivers, parents pushing strollers.

This brings up sidewalk width and how that is established for downtown MP and El Camino. On Santa Cruz Avenue some restaurants move tables to the side walk, but can create obstacles for everyone else including pedestrians. One solution is to establish wider sidewalks on El Camino and Santa Cruz which invite multiple activities safely.

Years ago on the Planning Commission I invited a blind resident to speak to the Planning Commission on their personal perspective and issues of getting around town to heighten the awareness of staff and commissioners beyond the prescribed ADA regulations.

Perhaps you would be interested in offering your comments to the PC directly.





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