Fretting and Strutting on the Toronto stage

Here at the ALLDERBLOB, we are always so thrilled when we receive attention. It really is a kind of illness, this need to be noticed. A psycholojism would no doubt have a field day with the ALLDERBLOB. We think we know what they would say, however, so we save our money.

All this is by way of mentioning we got a response to our last post. Our good friend over at Bricoleurbanism [a word you won’t find in your thesaurus by the way–ed.] wrote an impassioned and logical rejection of our modest proposal to limit the number of handicap driving permits to a number equal to that number of spaces made available on the Toronto Island Residential community.

Our response to his response is to demand of our mentor in all matters of urban design, Jacob Allderdice, to reformat his call for a limited number of handicap parking permits. Now stand back and watch him work!

As a non-driver, I have been watching with some amusement the frettings and struttings about the stage by the big actors in the little drama called Toronto’s “disabled parking abuse crisis.”

I mean no disrespect to folks with disabilities, but I actually think there’s a continuum of disabled-ness. I myself have no disabilities, unless you include chronic psoriasis.

Hmm. To tell the truth, psoriasis can be pretty damn disabling. disabling psoriasis Just ask Dennis Potter or John Updike. Just ask Nicholson Baker: “I’m really sad that I can’t ride a bicycle with my kids.”

I may yet be in a wheelchair over it. I may yet merit a goddamned disabled permit. I can spell epicharikaky. Can I spell “irony?”

So this is when it hit me: since it’s so easy to define yourself as “disabled” give anyone with a car an automatic disabled permit.

Fact is, the car is the ultimate “assisted mobility device,” and folks who’ve become dependent on the car should be treated like any other addict: as someone with a disability. It’s not their fault they can’t do anything without their motorized furnaces–cars are a necessary evil, as the saying goes.

I’d love to see what our streets would look like if each driver only looked out for number one.

Wait a minute, that’s how we got into this muddle.

So I had another take on the subject. I got to thinking about the limited spaces available for carfree living in this city. A majority of people don’t drive. How come no one’s talking about designing places where cars are kept out?

Which is when it hit me: let’s divide cities into “disabled” and “non-driving” areas. Half the households in the downtown don’t own or use cars, after all. Why should the petty problems of car drivers have to infect our lives too?

Just consider: “non-driving sectors” with sidewalk cafes where you can hear the birds sing, versus “disabled sectors” where stepping off the curb may be a death sentence; “non-driving sectors” with windows you can throw open to fresh breezes and sweet smells, versus “disabled sectors” where the roar and clank of cars, and the belching of exhaust keeps your windows shut tight; “non-driving sectors” with children playing and wheelchairs wheeling, versus “disabled sectors” with sidewalks empty and teeth gritted?

Which will you choose?

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