Ah, here’s to some “summer bucket lists” city residents may overlook, like sitting out after dark on park benches and only viewing the sky and the trees and definitely no device peering. And bring back the stroll – forget running, fast walking and recreational wheeling. Bring back the smile, too, the friendly wave of a hand to others sharing these finite ever more crowded walkways and streets.
But don’t forget civic fitness - the summer-all-season bucket list we need the most. Now if the majority and not just a small minority were civically fit, my heart might not be sinking to see furniture from 40 East End Ave. being loaded onto a moving van. So no more head-in-the-sand hoping this stately seven-story 1906 rental apartment house wasn’t really sold and to be replaced by a luxury high rise with no room for Gristede’s supermarket or the East End Kitchen restaurant. No affordable homes and a crowding out of things we need most for a livable city. Include neighborliness. And it’s happening all over.
My heart sinks, too, that not far away St. Stephen of Hungary Church service could use more attendance. And without a miracle, the days dwindle down to a precious few until it must merge with St. Monica’s which incidentally, unlike St. Stephen. is not handicapped accessible, does not have a kitchen and other rooms which serve community needs.
Speaking of civical fitness, the 60-plus exercise group meeting there did write a save-the-church letter to Our Town, as so many churches have, but, how to get the surrounding neighborhood to, say, attend the Sunday service. Urge them to give up one hour from often physical fitness activities to save this community center which offers infinitely more than this particular exercise class. Faith groups are also about spiritual fitness – which means neighborly fitness. Isn’t that what the love one another creed is all about?
Rome is burning, and we’ve gotta stop fiddlin’….
Until I saw the moving van outside #40, the column intended to be all about the failure to buckle up in the back seats of taxi cabs or other for-hire cars which so tragically made the news in the deaths of Nobel Prize winner John F. Nash and his wife Alicia. (So many such deaths do not make the news) Failure to buckle up also figured in CBS News correspondent Bob Simon’s death several months ago on the West Side Highway. Unanswered was my urgent call to CBS’s “60 minutes” to at least push for laws to require back seat limo riders to also buckle up. Of course, the greatest danger and crime to overcome is reckless traffic law-breaking driving.
Somehow we must push for real follow up to the May 26 Times Winnie Hu piece, “Deaths of Math Genius John F. Nash and his wife Alicia in New Jersey Show Need for Seat Belts in Back Seats, Say Experts.” And I, who will only take cabs in an emergency, am so grateful to learn of Cab Riders United group concerned with taxi drivers’ unsafe driving habits and mandatory seat belt use. Besides the tragic fatalities, the group’s Michael O’Loughlin also cites the awful facial injuries suffered when a crash or even a sudden braking propels riders into the vehicle’s plastic or glass partition. Emergency room medics call such injuries “the partition face.” Cab Riders United pushes for back seat buckle up laws in every state and all out enforcement.
But if ever a technological device were needed it’s one which would stop the movement of taxi or limo cars until all riders are safely buckled up. And it shouldn’t be so hard to buckle up in taxis – no wonder many riders don’t even try. And what about buckling up three back seat riders? Also some very graphic “partition face” photos shown on the taxi partition might well get more unconcerned riders to buckle up.
Incidentally, the annual monetary cost of U.S. traffic crashes is over seven hundred billion dollars. A recent column’s accidental deletion quoted a much lower figure. And, of course, the human cost is immeasurable. Our active concern must be too, but not so it overwhelms us. Read the first paragraph again for some balance. Smile.