Yesterday, in Newburgh, NY, I saw a man get stopped by the police for walking down the street. Sirens, lights, the works. He was walking on the shoulder of a road at an intersection where 5 years ago there was farmland, and now there are strip malls: "essential" things like B&Ns, Lowe's, Mobil stations, Chili's. It was illegal for him to be walking down this road because there is no sidewalk (like most roads these days), and, I'm guessing here, because it is considered a highway by the town of Newburgh. On an already hot and sweaty afternoon, in a landscape covered with black asphalt, this man wasn't allowed to walk home from work. (The Talking Heads song Nothing But Flowers comes to mind here.)
I was flabbergasted, and feel that, for me, this felt like the beginning of the end. I saw all this happen from a car, no surprise, but was so horrified, it makes me want to want to walk and ride my bike exclusively. I'm so repulsed by a culture that makes it illegal to walk in this place that has so recently been taken away from people, and handed to corporations. Sickened by this class crap, that tries to require people to have cars by not funding public transportation.
I'm inspired to give my friend John Francis, of the organization Planetwalk and the book Planetwalker, another read. John didn't ride in cars for twenty-two years to protest oil industry abuses, and has many an interesting story to tell from his journeys. And, bonus, he's another banjo player!