Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tucson at 30 MPH

I’ve been driving this week as Tucson has had unseasonably cold weather.  Frigid cold in the morning, beautiful afternoon warmth, then colder again as the sun goes down.  Driving the car in I can tell—The Snowbirds have arrived.  

I’ll be frank—the speed on the main route to work is 45 mph.  This means that, we, the people on our way to the office—drive 50 to 55.  That is a given.  If you’re driving 65 or 70 then that’s a bit much.  But really there’s a consensus among us all to keep things moving. That speed is usually 55 mph.   

Snow Birds refuse to drive any faster than the speed limit; many drive tops 33 mph.   They reduce traffic in this town to a crawl.  Add cell phone users to the equation—Welcome to Tucson at 30 miles per hour.   

I kid you not when I say to you, Gentle Reader of This Blog, that I ride faster than traffic much of my route to and from work.

I’m not here to blame old people.   My gripe is with Snow Birds.  What I’ve come to realize is that as a society—we have failed our elderly population, yeah and the Snow Birds too.  They drive as there’s no alternative.  We’ve buses here but where people live and where they need to go is where the bus lines don’t run. 

In reality, Snow Birds could give a rat’s ass—about the speed limit, the environment, the economy, you or me, or the future—they smirk and shake their heads because we voted for that black guy.   They reside in the affluent gated communities.  There are no bus routes to them—but like I said, they could care less.

When I’m older, unable to afford or unable to drive a car—will there be a transportation system for me?  You see the old farts here that make life miserable for us now—they have wealth.  They come here to a second retirement home from the cold upper mid-west. Days are leisurely spent golfing.

That dream for working Americans is gone now—the Snow Birds’ yearly migration is fading toward extinction—soon they’ll be gone, never to return.  I’ll have to keep working—retirement will be only for a wealthy few.

I hope that when I’m 70 or 80 that I can get on a bus or street car and get to where I need to go—probably my part-time job.  I wonder if most elderly retired people in Tucson can do that now.   I hope that there might be a bike lane so I can pedal along to that job, or to the store—to the park or seaside.  I hope it will be safe.     

What will really be sad, while I’m riding along as an old man, will be to see men and women (the age that I am now) riding beside me—because they can’t afford any other means to get to their jobs.  


Doohickie said...

Or maybe they just like to ride. It's not that bad if you dress right.

Sir Bikesalot said...

I actually had a really good conversation with a few Snowbirds on the bus returning from a light rail trip a few weeks back. Just when I had written them all off as no good old fartniks here is 4 or 5 of them excited about public transportation and ready to use it. Gave me a little hope.

Bruce's Bike Blog said...
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