My name is Josie Carlson and I live in the Owen Park Neighborhood.
My grandmother JoAnn Carlson walked everywhere. She worked at St. John's hospital, which is close to Utica Square. For the last 20 plus years, she lived in an apartment that is five or six blocks away from the hospital. My grandmother loved to walk everywhere, in her neighborhood, Utica Square and Cherry Street where she often shopped and dined. She would refuse to take rides from her coworkers, and would often sneak out of work when her coworkers would offer her a ride home. She was very independent. In fact, I don't remember my grandmother ever owning a car; she always walked. I think walking everywhere helped my grandmother stay in shape and stay young.
On December 15, 2012, she was eating dinner at Hideaway. From the police report, she was in the crosswalk headed back home, which was just a few blocks away, when she was hit by a driver. The driver did not stop but fled. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and she died a week later.
I know Cherry Street is a dark area. After the accident my family and I walked up and down Cherry Street a lot trying to find businesses with security cameras. We were hoping to find some evidence about what happened, and we noticed how extremely dark it is. The businesses themselves are really well lit, but other than that, the streets are not. When you are crossing the street, I can see how someone in a car would not be able to see a person in the crosswalk. If there were signs showing that there are crosswalks, that would be better. Also, people don't follow the speed limit; they are always driving too fast.
I visit Cherry Street a bit more now because of my grandmother's memorial which is where the accident happened. I have sat and watched pedestrians standing and waiting for a while to cross because cars do not stop for pedestrians.
I think even if you don't walk a lot, and even if you feel like it doesn't affect your life, it does. My grandmother dying not only changed my family, I know it affected others such as everybody she worked with, the businesses on Cherry Street who knew her.
Why wouldn't you want everybody to get around however they choose to? Not everybody can drive a car. My grandmother chose not to, but some people can't afford a car, and some people are limited because of disabilities. I think businesses will do better if there's better walkability. It should matter to everyone because our city would do better as a whole if pedestrians and drivers can coexist together.