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That's a lot of words there, Crazy Horse, but it all boils down to the same thing: churchgoers prioritize themselves over other users of the city's transportation resources (more on how it impacts ALL of them in a minute). I happen to live in a neighborhood with some large churches with mostly suburban congregations. Yes, the dreaded Marylanders.

Some of them aren't too bad. One has a decent-sized parking lot and runs some shuttles, and, therefore, the problems are minimal. But, they still exist. One, in particular, is awful. They take up a lane on each side of the street for parking and another lane on one side for pick ups/drop offs, reducing traffic to only one available lane on a major thoroughfare in one direction. Not okay. Not only does that jam up traffic, but that jammed traffic causes effects on people who aren't out "Sunday driving." Emergency vehicles cannot get through the area expediently under these conditions. Buses get caught up in traffic and are late, or, worse, cannot access the bus stop because church patrons have parked in it. See? Still a big deal, and hurting everyone who is not a member of that church who must use the area. While some church folk like to talk a big game about businesses being closed on Sundays, they really don't want that. I know, my dad was one of those people. He would have KILLED someone if he couldn't get brunch after church, but spent the whole brunch bashing people who worked on Sundays as heathens and whining about how things were closed on Sundays when he was a kid. You want food, gas, groceries, or anything else on Sunday? People have to get to work, and it's unfair for you to both take all of the parking they might need AND make MOST forms of transit slow, dangerous, and unreliable so you can go tell the big sky daddy how good you've been.

Did you see one word I used up there? Dangerous? Yeah, that's a big problem, too. Even the "good" church in our neighborhood has enough parishioners who can't be bothered to walk a block or two that the bus stops and crosswalks are parked full of cars. So, if you're traveling by bus, you need to step on/off the bus AWAY from the curb, not the safest thing to do (honestly, I find this less safe because of the size of the step than the traffic risks...that's a BIG drop if the driver doesn't kneel the bus, which he's not going to do if he's already behind schedule because of illegal parking and the resulting congestion). If you need to cross the street, you actually have to step part way out into parallel traffic to get around the parked car before using the crosswalk, and to get back on the sidewalk on the other side. Or go around the back, which puts you in an area where cars moving perpendicular to you are still going to be moving in their approach to the intersection/crosswalk. And if the car one back from the intersection is an SUV (as so common with our dear Marylanders), there's a decent chance on-coming traffic cannot see you. Now, imagine approaching that crosswalk in a wheel chair. Bikers, obviously, are at risk from illegally narrowed, congested streets, with lots of cars pulling in and out of street parking. Finally, these churchgoers have decided that they are immune to both the laws of man AND the laws of physics should they need to cross the street to reach their church (they don't even look, and cross wherever they park), but that anyone needing to cross the street while they are need to drive on their approach or departure would make lovely road kill. I actually had an old lady INTENTIONALLY gun it for me in a crosswalk a few weeks ago on a Sunday morning (you do not make eye contact with someone who is 3 steps into the street in brightly colored clothing and broad daylight, and then gun your engine and swerve towards them, finally looking them in the eye and giving them a sneer as you pass where they've just jumped back onto the sidewalk, if you don't mean it), but more of them are just rushed, inattentive, and careless. They run red lights and stop signs, don't look before pulling in/out, and don't care about things that inconvenience them, like crosswalks where they're legally required to stop but, well, have the advantage over anyone using the walk.

And it might be one thing to take up the parking, or make the streets narrower, but what about the person you just parked in? Is that supposed to be okay? How do you think the same churchgoer would react if THEY were parked in by a neighborhood resident or someone doing anything but attending their own church (or, possibly a parishioner at the same church, depends on the people involved for that one)? I'd be willing to bet there'd be some mighty fast and expensive parking enforcement if the tables were turned.

If I want to go to brunch on Sunday, and park illegally to do so, I will be ticketed and/or towed. If you do so to go to church, it's ignored. It's clear that this is the case, and you're intentionally trying to present this VERY REAL double-standard as "no biggie." It's unsafe, inconveniences others for nothing more than pure selfishness (which somehow seems against the whole point of their Sunday morning activity), and it needs to be stopped. Tighter street parking in an area near a church for a few hours on Sunday is, indeed, "no biggie." Blatant law-breaking and putting others at a serious disadvantage, if not outright physical danger, is INDEED a big deal.

By the way, those two churches I spoke specifically about? Each about a 5 minute walk to the Metro, with shuttles from the Metro, and a bus stop right in front of each of their front doors and additional bus stops for other routes within mere blocks. These people have choices, they don't care, and I'm sick of the one bearing the burden of their "choice." If that much of their congregation lives in the suburbs to the point that their only viable option to get to a church in the city is driving, they need to move the church to the suburbs. I have never ONCE seen any of these churches picking up litter, or hosting a charity event, or doing ANYTHING for my community. All take and no give...WWJD indeed.

by Ms. D on Dec 5, 2012 4:51 pm • linkreport

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