January 6, 2003
Letters to the Editor
New York Times
Kudos to San Francisco for banning the Segway from its sidewalks. ("And Now, a Scooter That Can Be Driven on the Sidewalk," Patricia Leigh Brown, 1/5/03)
Since the dawn of civilization, streets have been the principal public space of every community. Streets once belonged to everyone--children at play, strolling lovers, shoppers, performers, bicyclists, demonstrators, parades, festivals, fairs.
Since the intrusive arrival of the automobile, streets have been transformed from lively public spaces into deadly utilitarian traffic corridors. Pedestrians have been pushed aside to facilitate vehicles.
Sidewalks are a relatively recent modification of the urban streetscape intended to segregate walkers from motorized travelers, greatly privileging the latter while diminishing community life, public health, economic vitality, and environmental quality.
Pedestrians are besieged enough in their already meager sidewalk ghetto, without the additional hazard of pricey high-speed scooters such as the noxious Segway.
Revitalizing our cities begins with reclaiming public space to enhance social interaction. And this begins with defending our fundamental right to free movement--to walk.
San Francisco, CA