Monday, May 30, 2005

Remember the Day...

This unofficial start of summer, is a time for remembrance (commencements, and the Memorial Day holiday), to stop and reflect, on the future and the past.

Today is, surprisingly, the first day that a Memorial Day parade has taken place in Washington, D.C. itself, since World War II--today is the day of the first National Memorial Day parade! After World War II ended, folks allowed an official celebration to lapse. Fitting perhaps, now that there is also a World War II Memorial, a place for people to gather to commemorate that military victory, that the celebration has gotten back on track.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Safety is as Safety Does...

Today's Washington Post [free reg. req'd] is full of articles and information about keeping your vehicle from being stolen. Although the series focuses on Prince George's County (Maryland), the same principles apply anywhere, as car theft is a nationwide problem (and an expensive one to boot). Consider joining a Watch Your Car program in your area, if practical. (Enrolling in such a program permits the police to stop your car, if it's seen on the road between the hours of 1 and 5 am [if you're not normally out during those times], when most auto thefts take place.)

Hope this helps keep your ride close to you.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Name Game

Renaming places that have perfectly serviceable names is the costly new sport. The name of the gentleman who wishes to rename everything after Ronald Reagan escapes me (I suppose the renaming of National Airport was the beginning of that odyssey); this guy apparently misses the irony of spending vast public sums for projects to be renamed after a person who wanted government to spend as little as possible.

Other local entities affected by this fever include Metro, which in recent years has lengthened the names of some of its stations to the point of absurdity, confusing no small number of passengers. (By the way, Woodley Park and Adams Morgan are a bit further apart than the station name might lead one to believe, but I realize that I'm just being picky.)

The most recent outbreak of this affliction is the renaming of BWI Airport. Actually, it's another extension. (Uh oh.) As of October 1 of this year, it will officially be the "BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport" if the change is approved by Maryland's Board of Public Works. I might be happy about something being named after Marshall--after all, he is an American hero--if the airport had just been built and was originally named after him, because then we'd be referring to it as "Marshall Airport." Significant legislative energy and expenditures were, unfortunately, wasted on this gesture, as no one will refer to it as "Marshall Airport," as we've been calling the place BWI Airport all these years. According to the Washington Post (5/11/05, page B5), changes to the airport's signs will be about $2.1 million. Moreover, there was no logical reason to name an airport after him, as we don't particularly associate Marshall with the field of aviation. This situation is unlike the naming of the law library at the University of Maryland; naming its law library after Marshall could be considered a stroke of poetic justice, as he had been rejected by the university's law school decades earlier.

The renaming of BWI Airport, sadly, won't accomplish what was intended--honoring the life of that great man, Thurgood Marshall.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Planning (or Lack Thereof)

Like most of you, I'm peeved by products and environments designed and planned by people who apparently have not tested them using some of the people who might actually use them.

A prime example would be two of the subway stations in Washington's Metro system. The sprawling L'Enfant Plaza station has only one inner elevator for use by disabled passengers, although there are three train platforms. If you exit a train on a side away from the elevator, there's no way to reach the elevator except to take the escalator to the platform on the other side! As many disabled people cannot, or should not, use an escalator, you would either be stuck or stranded.

And all this is not counting the wonder that is the Smithsonian subway station. Honestly, whose bright idea was it to place the handicapped elevator across the street (a busy one at that) from one of its exits, rather than on the same block? To add insult to injury (pun intended), when entering the elevator, you're confronted with a lone turnstile that requires you to use a farecard, but provides no farecard machine from which you could purchase a farecard! If you had to purchase a farecard (which would be true for many of our city's visitors), you'd have to take the elevator back to the street level, dodge the traffic with your cane, crutches, or wheelchair, and take the elevator down (if that's even possible for you) in order to buy a farecard in order to use the handicapped elevator to get on the train--across the street. (At this point, if you were able to use the escalator, you could simply get on the train from here, which means your trip across the street to use the handicapped elevator in the first place was a waste of time.)

Wait, it's worse than that. While you cannot buy a farecard when (attempting to) enter the subway platform from that Smithsonian handicapped elevator, if you were leaving the train near that elevator, you'd be able to add to your farecard before you went through the turnstile, if necessary.

Unlike local residents, who might have the option of using the MetroAccess service if they qualify, disabled local visitors who use public transportation must deal with this nonsense.

Convoluted, huh?