Imagine a world where you complain about stupid and awful stuff you see and come across every day, and someone actually fixes it.
Yeah, given the world we live in, it’s hard to imagine.
Gov. Jared Polis is often that kind of an optimist. Some might say he’s a surrealist. But he and some of his top cabinet members were in Aurora last week asking people what they thought was wrong and what might make it right.
You don’t have to guess long what Polis and most of the 100 or so Aurora folks put on the list: the unbearably high cost of living, the unbearably high cost of housing, the awful cost of just getting by. Did I mention how much everything costs?
I’m right there with everyone. Gasoline is back up past $4 a gallon. A teeny tiny package of M&Ms is about three bucks. A single Palisade peach cost me $2.25 last week. One peach.
But beyond inflation, there’s so much more to fix in Aurora, if someone’s making a list.
For the love of god, fix the damn sidewalks in this city. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that City Council has passed a long, long overdue bill that prioritizes places across this very large burg where there just aren’t any sidewalks. No really. If you had to walk places, you’d know this. It’s not just in obscure neighborhoods that some city planner from eons ago gave the OK to forgo a place to walk along a street. It’s on major roads and intersections.
One of those places is right along Parker Road, right in front of the Sentinel newsroom, right by a bus stop, where people have to walk to get to.
From Havana Street, southeast, along the office buildings, restaurants, shops, bus stops and more, there’s no sidewalk. Or there’s just chunks of one on the north side of Parker Road, all the way to Yale and beyond. I know because I’ve tried walking along Parker Road when I sneak out for ethnic foodie treats at my favorite local haunts.
What happens is, you have to weave among the cars turning in and out the parking lots, motored by drivers who seem to think pedestrians are just mirages.
Even worse, in the winter, when the city scoops snow and ice onto the curb, you have to walk in the street.
But the most ghastly sidewalk gaffe ever made and never fixed is at the intersection of East Iliff Avenue and South Havana Street. On the southwest corner of one of the busiest intersections in the city — busy with both cars and pedestrians — is a stretch of Iliff about 250 feet long with no sidewalk at all. None. Zip.
Oh there are plenty of pedestrians that try and navigate the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot asphalt that slants directly into Iliff. In fact, I’ve sat at that intersection more than once when someone using a walker and once, even a wheelchair, tried to maneuver that treacherous stretch of road with no accommodation for people riding a bus or just hoofing it.
A former city official allowed the donut shop to keep parking spaces along the strip of road rather than create a safe space for pedestrians that just want a little ribbon of concrete to keep from being killed.
Next on my wish list: cops in patrol cars all over Interstate 225. I mean everywhere. There are never, ever traffic cops in or out of cars or on a motorcycle on the interstate, and every ass hat in a speeding car knows it and counts on it, all day and all night. Every. Single. Day.
I am never not confounded by how crappy drivers, often in crappy new or old cars, drive like it’s all a big Xbox lark at speeds well over 100 mph and in all kinds of traffic. I know they’re doing 100 mph because I’m doing about 80 mph, and they’re blowing by me like I was doing the speed limit.
We’ve run repeated stories in the Sentinel from experts who make it clear that people drive like morons because they know they can get away with it. And clearly, they can. And they do.
This week, Aurora has begun parking photo-radar speed vans along a couple of neighborhood streets where the speedway ass hats zip through neighborhoods.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. All good to go there, too.
But I’m a total highway guy. And it’s not like I’ve ever been timid about jumping on the interstate. But every single day watching some dork come flying up in my rear-view mirror and weaving through traffic as if they had the skills and tires to pull something like that off? It’s ghastly, and it’s everywhere.
You don’t have to hire actual cops. Just hire Uber drivers or bored people to drive up and down I-225 in a cop car. Have them park along the interstate all the time with the blue-and-red lights flashing. Just park the damn cruisers with blow-up dolls in the driver’s seat. But do something.
And for my third wish: Bring back regular sized parking spaces.
When did parking spaces in parking lots shrink to the size that can only accommodate golf carts?
It’s not like I drive a ginormous SUV that can barely stay in a lane. I motor around in a tiny Toyota, but every time I park in a grocery store lot or in front of a convenience store, I have to suck in while I park. Even just a few years ago — OK, probably several years ago — this was not the case in the very same car.
I can remember parking between the yellow lines and being able to open the door wide enough to get out without crawling out the window or the hatch back. Just a couple more feet, please.
I’m good with just those three things for now. Any one would be life altering. All three would be life enabling.
And next year? Let’s talk about Japanese beetles and Amazon shipping bags that are impervious to opening.