Columbia motorists are the worst when it comes to consideration for disabled pedestrians. White cane in hand, I have walked the streets of Paris, a city whose residents are unfairly and ignorantly stereotyped as rude, and have never been threatened with being flattened the way I have in Columbia. The same applies to Spain and Italy, California and even New York.
Where is everyone going in such a rush? Why can’t drivers wait until the light changes and the pedestrian is off the road? The worst spots are Laurel and Sumter, where motorists try to out-run buses to the corner, and Bull and Taylor, where they stop over the pedestrian crossway. This is particularly bad for me as a blind pedestrian, because I try to follow the white line I can still see faintly across the road. Another bad spot is wherever cab drivers are trying to turn left from a right lane: They cross, then blow their horn at me to get out of the way after I am already crossing.
Motorists have stopped and asked me whether I need help or a ride; I am grateful. More than a ride, however, what we blind pedestrians need is a lot more drivers’ awareness of these simple guidelines:
• Please don’t blow your horn when you are approaching us unless we are walking down the middle of the road, obviously confused. Your horn startles and disorients us. Most of us are blind, not deaf, and can hear you approaching. Instead of blasting your horn, consider slowing down.
• If you meet another vehicle on a two-lane road and someone is standing or walking on the side of the road, please remember that brakes are standard equipment in all motor vehicles, and have some consideration and charity toward others, especially the handicapped. Is it possible to wait until the other car goes by instead of getting so close to the curb that we feel a gust of wind on the face when you speed by?
• If you are exiting a parking lot and turning right, please try not to out-run us. It’s common courtesy, and a lot safer for everyone.
Joseph F. Delgado