Thursday, August 11, 2011

11 AUG 11: Hit the Streets

To be honest, the morning run was ordinary. I only made it three-quarters of a mile non-stop, even running at sunrise. If I had run at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:00 a.m., the three-quarters of a mile might have referred to the puddle of my sweat.

But something out of the ordinary occurred one morning this week, as I walk/jogged toward home to eat breakfast. I nearly was hit by a Columbus city work truck - while walking on the sidewalk, a safe distance from any paved road. To borrow an old song, they didn't "pave paradise" enough for some people....

Much of my jogging is done on the Riverwalk, which I enter at Golden Park. That means using the sidewalks at the south end of Broadway -- and from the sounds of that neighborhood, I fear one of these days part of the Oglethorpe Bridge is going to drop right behind me.

But over the years, the sidewalks at the west end of South Commons have been used by more than pedestrians and bicyclists. When the RedStixx and other teams played at Golden Park, drivers veered their pickup trucks from Broadway directly onto the grass to park on the third-base side of the stadium. Well, it WAS minor-league baseball....

Two marked city pickup trucks decided to use South Commons sidewalks the other morning to get wherever they were going. Trouble is, I was on one of those sidewalks as well. Thankfully, I didn't wind up on it flat as a pancake.

I was walking north toward Broadway when a city truck came around a turn in the sidewalk. To be fair, it was a rather blind turn due to vegetation - but I don't think the driver expected someone to be out walking at 7:30 a.m. I didn't expect two city work trucks to be out that early, either. The only real dangers I expect come from packs of bicyclists and people with loose-roaming dogs.

With only a couple of seconds to react to the sight of the pickup truck, I stepped aside into the grass -- and my jaw dropped at what I saw. Imagine if I had been running north at that moment, instead of walking. The e-mail to Mayor Tomlinson with my name on it might have been sent by attorney Ken Nugent.

A few signs in South Commons warn pedestrians and bicyclists to look out at railroad tracks. But nothing warns them about city vehicles using the sidewalks as short cuts. Either it's time to add warning signs, or someone should give city employees GPS devices showing there really is an access road between Golden Park and the skateboard park.

Then again, maybe I need to change my running plans to use more "urban courses" - as in sidewalks along the streets. There was news in that direction Wednesday, as a Columbus Councilor wants to name part of Fifth Street after Pastor J.H. Flakes. That's one way to end the jokes about his Fourth Street Baptist Church being one block off.

Councilor Mimi Woodson offered a resolution to name part of Fifth Street after Pastor J.H. Flakes. But City Attorney Clifton Fay explained that change must be done by ordinance -- the same way a penalty box at the new Ice Rink might be named after Dale Hester.

The renaming of Fifth Street was intended to be a surprise, to mark J.H. Flakes reaching the 50-year mark as Fourth Street Baptist Pastor. Think about that for a minute. When Flakes became Pastor there, people were more concerned about a President being Roman Catholic than a secret Muslim....

The last time a famous resident had a Columbus street named after him, it was Bob Poydasheff - and that was in a new subdivision, while he was mayor. [25 Apr 06] Poydasheff went on to lose a re-election bid later that year. This could explain why no one's proposed a "Wetherington Way" outside the Public Safety Center.

The last big name-changing idea along these lines came in Phenix City. Russell County Commissioner Ronnie Reed proposed turning part of Broad Street into Barack Obama Parkway [8 Feb 09]. If Reed proposed that today, the Phenix City Tea Party might call a rally downtown to burn the President's book.

We'll adjourn the naming convention for now, and walk quickly through other Wednesday headlines....

+ The Cunningham Center at Columbus State University hosted a "Georgia Competitiveness" conference. WRBL seemed to combine that conference with our Wednesday topic, and focused on a proposed special transportation sales tax. I might have looked at that title, and thought it was about college football.

+ Russell County's new Parks and Recreation Director announced plans to improve athletic facilities. Mike Parker explained you can "either build prisons, or you can build parks." The last 12 months at the Columbus Parks Department have shown it might be wiser to build a mix of the two.

+ Atlanta foiled Florida 6-2 in National League baseball, with Dan Uggla extending his hitting streak to 31 games in a row. Uggla tied an Atlanta record held by Rico Carty - who I think set that mark before a "RICO Act" meant a violation of federal law.

+ Instant Message to Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara: Did I hear you correctly on TV - your job is to educate children, not enforce the law? Does that explain why several faculty members and staff members have been arrested in recent months?

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