Pothole Prognostication


How open are you to change?

No, really.

When you have to adapt to the new, how willing are you to stay calm and rational?

I live in a small very small city.  The street that is literally around the corner from my house (Hinckley Street) is in horrible shape:  massive potholes, broken and missing sidewalks, drains and sewers that don’t work.

I think the official Department of Public Works description of Hinckley Street reads:  A freakin’ nightmare.

The water/sewer lines haven’t been upgraded since the 1930’s.  The street was last repaved in 1979.   (That’s 35 years ago, for those keeping score.)

After years of kicking the can down the road and budget deficits, the city is planning for a $1.5 million reconstruction of Hinckley St. this summer.    This project will upgrade the drain lines, renovate streets, even construct a five foot wide sidewalk where one currently doesn’t  exist.

If you lived on Hinckley Street, what would you think about this project?

Last week, the city held a public hearing to discuss it with the community.  About forty of my neighbors showed up to offer feedback to the city.  Some of their comments:

We like the potholes.  They slow drivers down.

We don’t want sidewalks to eat into the middle of our yards.

We don’t want this project.

What do these comments have in common?  Resistance to change.

Let’s keep the status quo, even if the status quo is a pothole laden freakin’ nightmare.

My neighbors have a case of the NIMBYs.  (Not in my backyard.)   Their fear of change has taken over their ability to think clearly.

“We like the potholes–they slow drivers down”.   Potholes are not a traffic calming measure.   If my neighbors looked at the data (similar projects already done in our city) they’d find that fixing streets does not increase vehicular speed.

It’s the fear talking.

“We don’t want sidewalks to eat into the middle of our yards.”   We live in a city–not the country.  People actually walk around here.  Pedestrians need to get around…safely.  And when you repave streets, taller curbs means walking in streets is even that more dangerous.  Middle of your yard?  The part of your yard that is slated for sidewalk is the part that adjoins the street.  That’s why it’s called a side-walk.  Otherwise it’d be a yard-walk.

More fear talking.

People are responding from their reptilian brains—ready for fight or flight— and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  It reminiscent of this recent classic fear induced phrase:

Just keep your government hands off of my medicare.  

(Last time I checked, medicare was a government program.) 

When we operate from fear,  our thinking suffers.   Our blinders keep us from getting understanding, and taking appropriate action.

Where is your fear talking?  How does is it influence your decision making?  




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