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On a Roll

By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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Holidays' Roadways

Uploaded: Dec 24, 2014
Deck the halls...and hit the decks. These last pre-Christmas days have proven perilous for anyone in a wheelchair. Drivers do not see me in crosswalks. But it's nothing personal – they don't see each other. And once behind the wheel of my minivan, I quickly seem part of the problem.

I see other drivers, but I don't see what they are about to do. Cars dart unexpectedly from intersections. In packed parking lots, they wait inexplicably for driverless vehicles to move. And speaking of driverless vehicles, if you ask me, they can't arrive quickly enough. Someday, the general concept of air traffic control will morph into something more terrestrial. Holiday traffic control.

Call it road queuing. Or structured parking . You know how when SFO gets fogged in, you sit waiting at Cleveland Airport? Imagine something like that for the Peninsula roadways. Why waste time? When there's no parking at Stanford Shopping Center, you might as well stay home. If a space opens up at the mall, Holiday Traffic Control will let you know. Actually, I will let you know. Just give me a call. My advice will be to stay home. Or take Caltrain to Hillsdale.

At my home, such advice falls on deaf ears. My wife drives a lot, frequently endures traffic en route to her San Francisco job. Which is why I do much of the shopping, even the holiday grocery shopping. Despite the perils, a wheelchair has certain advantages in crowded streets – principally the freedom from parking. That's why my wife's shopping list can arise spontaneously. As menus change, so do priorities. So off I go, battery-powered, in search of fresh tarragon, whatever that is. As for collisions, watch out. I can do serious damage to a shopping cart.

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