Is Monterey Blvd. A Woman Friendly Street?

“In 1999, officials in Vienna handed out a questionnaire about how people in the city used transportation. The men filled it out in five minutes: go to work in the morning, come home at night. The women couldn’t stop writing.

The things they wrote were about dropping the kids off at school on the way to work, or taking them to the doctor some mornings, or helping their own aging parents buy groceries, or picking the kids up from activities.

It was an extremely more varied pattern of use—with far more walking and public transport—and one that resulted in several changes to the city’s infrastructure: easier access to public transport, wider pavements, ramps for pushchairs and buggies. This thinking is part of a movement called gender mainstreaming—assessing how planning and policy decisions will specifically affect both women and men.”

 

I read this today in an interesting article about designing streets and transportation for the people who use them most. It got me thinking about how I feel about Monterey Blvd. when I am walking on it. When I was still pushing strollers around the neighborhood I was driven crazy by the cracks and ruts and slanting sidewalks that made it nearly impossible; a feeling I revisited when my husband crushed his foot in a motorcycle accident and was forced to get around on one of those knee scooters they give out now . This street is not knee scooter friendly (or walker, or wheelchair, or blind cane…). I am especially reminded of how unfriendly Monterey Blvd. can be to pedestrians, and especially women, at night when I am walking alone; the dark doorways and staircases, the poor street lighting, the narrow sidewalks flanked by car doors and bushes, the giant cracks to trip on, the cars blocking the sidewalk that force me either into the street or someone’s doorway to get through… I find myself thinking of the time I was mugged for my camera on my own block by a gang that used our freeway offramp and unobstructed street to target victims and get away quick in a rented/stolen car.

Monterey Blvd. doesn’t feel like a place designed for people, at least not to me. What do you think? If you are woman, do you feel safe walking MB alone at night? Is it easily navigable with a stroller? Do you feel safe walking your children along the boulevard? Read the article and leave some of your  thoughts and ideas in the comments here!

 

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2 responses to “Is Monterey Blvd. A Woman Friendly Street?

  1. The most hazardous section of Monterey Blvd for Sunnyside residents is between Foerster and Acadia. Sidewalks suddenly narrow to two feet in width; sloping driveways cut into the sidewalk, creating a ridge of several inches in depth; tree roots buckle and upheave sections of sidewalk; metal plates over underground utility vaults are slip hazards when wet; street lighting of the sidewalk is blocked by overgrown trees creating tunnels of darkness .
    If you are visually impaired, have mobility restrictions requiring a cane, a walker, a wheel chair or mechanized chair these sidewalks are a hazard inviting serious injury. As a now “senior” resident of Monterey Blvd near Congo for 30 years I am apprehensive walking home – even with a cane for balance – down Monterey Blvd. at night from Safeway at Forester or the 43 bus stop at Gennessee.
    Many residents do not clean the build up of debris on the sidewalk from the trees above creating an additional slip/trip hazard. And then there are the skateboarders that appear out of nowhere that revel in the challenges presented by the sidewalks uneven and irregular terrain. And you are the one obstacle in their path thay is expected to move out of their wsy. Wrong!!

  2. Adrienne — Nice piece. I agree with you. Monterey can be a pretty miserable place — just the noise from zooming cars alone and the atmosphere that brings to any walk down the boulevard. And the tense matter of crossing the street. Just leaves me pissed off, instead of feeling at home in my own neighborhood. An SUV driver yelled at me three days ago for crossing at the crosswalk at Detroit.

    There is unsurprisingly some history behind how it got to its present state — post-WWII development, reduced number and types of businesses, those giant apartments buildings, so many factors that affect the experience of streetlife here. On Saturday 11 February I’m doing the history walk that covers mid-century Monterey Blvd — I hope you’ll consider coming along (11am-1pm, meet at Monterey Deli). It’s astonishing what used to be here. Dozens of shops axed — for apartments, condos, and of course Safeway. Please write if you are interested: sunnysidehistory@gmail.com.

    Policy helped get the street into its present state, policy could help change it. The matter of streetlife on Monterey was one of the issues raised by residents at the candidates forum in October. One response was that the matter of zoning should be looked at, to increase density, and this would shift activity on the street. There are plenty of people here who would like changes, even if others are resistant.

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