Building Walls

With all the talk about building “The Wall” these days, quietly and below the radar a wall has been built right here in Dallas.  This wall doesn’t engender the passions of partisan political activists, it isn't divided along partisan lines and it doesn’t pit the right against the left.  This wall exists as a matter of unintended consequences. It is the result of good and perhaps even noble intentions gone horribly awry. You may not recognize the wall as being a wall, and some call it a necessity and progress, or the wave of the future while others call it trash and unnecessary. If you don't like the building blocks to this wall there are those out there who sneer and call you a troglodyte. They look down their noses from an elitist perch and accuse you of being stuck in the old ways and call you an impediment to progress. Without regard to why I feel the way that I do, without understanding my point of view and rational for my opposition I am left feeling judged from a perch high on the mountain of political correctness by those unaware of the unintended consequences. 

If you have driven the streets of Dallas or walked the sidewalks you’ve all seen the building blocks of this wall and I am sure you have your opinions on the efficacy and wisdom, the void that they fill.  Or perhaps you see them as a nuisance, trash and something that contributes to urban blight.  You see something, I don't because you see, I am blind. The building blocks in the wall that I am speaking of are the legion of bikes that have been deposited on the streets of Dallas, sans regulations, rules or in my opinion any real thought for those who like me, have mobility issues.  The wall that I am speaking of is a result of a population that uses them only to carelessly leave them as landmines for those of us who have mobility challenges. 

I am writing this because I am angry, angry that my freedom, my limited freedom has been thoughtlessly taken from me.  I am angry because two days before the New Year I found myself lying on the ground with a knee and ankle injury because some thoughtless individual decided to park one of these bikes in the middle of the sidewalk.  More often than not it isn't just one bike, attached to this letter is a picture my wife took.  I don't need to tell anybody who takes the time to read this who lives here in Dallas that our streets and sidewalks leave a lot to be desired.  They are uneven, buckled and cracked.  For most people, this isn't that big of a deal, for me it is a very big deal and when you add to the difficulties that exist by littering the sidewalks with bikes you have effectively constructed a wall for those of us who have mobility issues. I have reached out to my city leaders.  My representative, Mr. Kingston has yet to even respond.  I did receive a cookie cutter email from the staff of TC Broadnacx and I was less than impressed.  I have written the editorial boards of the newspapers and contacted the news.  For the most part I have received no acknowledgement other than a contact and interview from NBC 5’s Samantha Chatman.  She was gracious and took the time to talk with me.  Because of her one of the bike companies (VBike) showed up with flowers and candy, they cleaned up the mess in my neighborhood.  Progress, right?  No, within days I found myself once again navigating the landmines frequently tripping, and bumping into bikes left on the ground and parked in the middle of the sidewalk. 

To those who operate the bike sharing companies and to our city leaders, clean this mess up or the next letter the city receives might come from a lawyer suing for injuries incurred. To those of you who use these bikes, keep in mind that outside yourself, there are others out there who need the sidewalk.  And to everybody reading this here is my challenge, walk a mile in my shoes because I can’t ride a mile on your free bike and then tell me how you view this program.

E.L. Burton, I reside in the Bryan Street neighborhood in Dallas