Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dash cam, Part 11: The bravest Leaguer

Houston is home to Houstonians.  St. Louis boasts about two million St. Louisans.  Florida is home to Floridians (many of them old), and Vancouver to Vancouverites (some of them highly upsettable, but you know what a big deal hockey is there).  But people from Liverpool are Liverpudlians and those from Halifax are Haligonians.  Who the heck decides these things?!  I don't know if there is an accepted convention to describe us folks who are "from" League City, but people from New York City are New Yorkers so maybe we should be Leaguers.  It's certainly easier and more elegant than "League City-ians".

And here's one of our littlest Leaguers, as seen a few days ago in Old Town:
Those handlebars are up to her chin.
She could not have been more than four years old, a speck of a human being in a cute pink dress.  Was she daunted by the fact that it was exactly 97 degrees outside when this picture was taken?  Was she discouraged by her environment, which doesn't afford her a single square foot of space, not even a crude sidewalk, in which to safely master that 2-wheeler bicycle about which she was so obviously excited?
And she's vertical!  Look at her go!
Sorry for the poor pic quality - bad sun glare.
And no, I wasn't stalking her.  These were shots taken as I was going to and coming from an errand in this part of town.
When I see things like this, I wonder: where was the heart of the community that built so many neighborhoods that denied children even the most basic safe accessibility?  Land was unbelievably cheap back when this subdivision was built, but did anybody set aside so much as a meager patch of dirt for recreational use by a kid like this and her family, who were watching attentively from their front yard as these pics were taken?

Why must a 35-pound child compete directly with 3,500-pound motor vehicles for access to the only available public right of way?  Some of you will want to respond, "Huh, that's dangerous - she shouldn't have been on that road in the first place."  Well, what the hell is she supposed to do instead of riding her bike?  Spend the remaining 14 years of her childhood inside her house playing video games?!  There are no parks or other recreational areas accessible to this neighborhood.  This is pretty much the only choice available to her for outdoor physical activity.  For argument's sake we can assume that she can only run in tight circles on her own front lawn for so long before getting profoundly bored with that.  And for perspective, please note that zoo animals are often provided with more space in which to recreate than our own children are.    

At some point in our imperfect society, outdoor accessibility became a "green" issue with all of the attendant "green" moral baggage and partisanship.  But it's not a green issue - that's just another example of people leveraging derogatory polarization in order to achieve some specific ends in which they are personally vested.  This isn't a green issue - it's a human issue.  Children need reasonable and accessible recreational spaces in order to properly develop.  This is equally true irrespective of whether their parents are Democrat or Republican.  Or Libertarian.

"Oh, it's just an old poorly-planned residential area and we don't make mistakes like that any more," some of you will think.

Wrong again.  While certain local codes now dictate better minimum standards in isolated areas, those do nothing to promote connectivity of the type that would be necessary for bona fide mobility and access (e.g., it's only of so much value that Centerpointe has sidewalks, because there's nothing to connect us to other parts of League City, so we can't really go anywhere safely except by car).  The "complete streets" legislation, which would have mandated that rights of way accommodate ALL types of travelers and not just motor vehicles, died in the last Texas legislative session for lack of vote.  None of the politicians had the 'nads to push it through.  I wonder... what would the outcome have been if instead those politicians had even half the determination and courage demonstrated by the littlest Leaguer pictured above?

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