Local Commentary

The Little City Weed


Please, oh, please. Can we all just please stop pretending we care about creating a walkable community?


Please, oh, please. Can we all just please stop pretending we care about creating a walkable community? We obviously do not care about pedestrian – bicyclist safety in Falls Church. Blankly mouthing encouraging words while over and over again doing only what is myopically politically expedient is a horrific habit which promotes self-delusion and fosters false hope. Sort of like what you sonofabitches did with affordable housing.

What we care about is calming car traffic. Calming defined as … getting out of our way, collecting local traffic fines, forcing non-city drivers to stop – shop and get out of here, and making sure everyone drives slowly on the street in front of our house.

Oh yeah. We care about political retribution, too. We like to be jerks. Snarky. Sophisticated. Socratic. If we can talk about traffic calming and safety in the context of skewering a … what is the word you use … ah yes, some neighbors “cabal,” then we are fully pleasured. Then we can flit about town in our tennis shoes, taking pictures, with no involvement, unburdened by any obligation to actually do anything, free to amorally bludgeon greater souls with a remarkably self unaware narcissistic smirk permanently affixed to the head which houses our million known and unknown pathologies.

This week the city trumpeted its new photo red light cameras. Photo red lights are a technology the city has four times failed to actually implement in the last decade or so – twice due to random changes in state political whimsy. The technology is expensive and it is singularly focused on creating revenue from car traffic.

If we spent a fraction of as much effort on technology designed to improve pedestrian – bike safety in the city we could actually live up to the “walkable community” standard we set for ourselves.

But not yet. Not the right time. The financial crisis and all. This past week, for example, the mayor was busy instructing the city manager to document all the things the city has done for the Falls Church Housing Corporation … so the mayor could respond to the criticism he deserves from the affordable housing community by attacking the FCHC for being needy and incompetent do-gooders.

Narrow political infighting is our real priority. Leadership and accountability is too hard.

We are a community which builds new buildings with sidewalks which are too small. We make sidewalks out of bumpy dark disparate material. We do not enforce our sign code. Local businesses shovel snow if they please. Advocates for better use of Park Avenue as a way to refocus a commercial corridor away from the heavy traffic on Broad Street get demonized. Developer proffers on crosswalks go unspent because of state funding shortfalls … and we quietly accept the state’s malfeasance. Power poles block walkways because recalcitrant local businesses refuse to allow access for undergrounding, and we cannot summon the political will to force respect for pedestrian – bicyclist safety.

So let us stop pretending we care, shall we?


Michael Gardner is a quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.