This morning I got up very early to catch the soft morning light. As I was driving along Wade Hampton Blvd, I noticed several people walking. In most cities, this would be no big deal. But this is Greenville. One does not walk unless one has no access to a car. I automatically began to ponder the circumstances that had led to their being forced to walk. It could be that they just like walking, but that sort of behavior is completely out of step for our city (so to speak.)
I don’t know which came first – this general attitude about walking, or Greenville’s lack of accommodation for pedestrians. Sidewalks are very rare. Crosswalks and pedestrian lights at intersections are even rarer. Fortunately, some things are improving, such as the the new sidewalks and lights along Haywood Road. For years, if one wanted to walk from the hotels near Haywood and Pelham to the mall or restaurants, it was a challenge. Now, if they could extend those sidewalks along Pelham and Haywood to the huge apartment communities, things might improve further. This is just one example among many of the lack of consideration for pedestrians.
In the older parts of the city and downtown, there do seem to sidewalks, etc. It’s when the city started sprawling that newer roads weren’t built with walkers in mind. I guess one could argue that development of multiple suburbs is completely anathema to walking – one is further and further from stores and other necessities, and must drive.
If facilities for pedestrians are rare, public transportation is even rarer. The Greenville Transit Authority runs a few bus routes. However, it was recently announced that they would be cutting back even on those. I guess if you can’t drive, you’re just terribly out of luck.
The supremacy of driving can bring out some strange attitudes, including everything from road rage to road hogging. I saw two unfortunate examples of this later in the day. I had decided to ride up to Furman for a few more shots, and along the way I had two huge SUV’s tailgate me at different times, whipping around at the slightest opening to tailgate the next poor soul. I’ll admit that at times I drive agressively, but this was extreme even for me. Both vehicles were in a hurry to get to Furman for some activity, which had created a traffic nightmare on campus. I decided to avoid it and headed out the back gate. When I got to the intersection of Roe Ford Road and White Horse Road, there had been a fatality of someone on a motorcyle. I decided that was enough and it was time to head home.