The deadly streets of Ottawa
The Importance of Being Ergonomic or,
Attack of the Killer Parking Meters!
I don't dwell on it, but I've experienced a few moments of significant physical pain over the years.
I sport a titanium mesh where my right orbital bone used to be (the details are here, but they are not for the sqeamish); I've thrown my back out a few times; I've fractured my fibula and, once, bounced off the cross-bar of a bicycle in such a way as to make strong men wince.
But possibly the worst pain I've ever experienced came while I was just walking along a Toronto sidewalk, when my perambulations came to a sudden and shocking end as the centre of my not-so irrisistable chest met an utterly immovable object — a parking meter, to be precise.
The pain was sharp and shocking and very, very, intense. I had been striding along at a pretty good clip and suddenly I ... wasn't. Wasn't moving at all except to gasp, in too much pain to even make much noise.
In retrospect, I can only be grateful that whoever designed those old-fashioned meters had the good sense to make them more or less round. A sharper edge might well have punched through my ribs instead of just bruising them.
Parking meters have changed since the 1980s. No longer the big-headed steel mono-pod coin-holders also suitable for hitching up one's bicycle, they have morphed into squarish computerized beasts that eat coins, bills and plastic and which spit out printed receipts in return.
Better yet, they are green, hulking beneath a solar-panel like a Texan under a ten-gallon hat.
And like that gun-toting stereotype, the new machines are killers below those eco-friendly toppers.
Those solar panels have sharp edges and, for some reason, are placed at the eye-level of folks just a little taller than I am. (See photo dramatization at right.)
More than just bruising the unwary, these modern machines are going to kill someone, and probably sooner than later.
That's right, due to a shocking case of ergonomic oversight, my city is now infested with Killer Parking Meters!
Solar power is a fine thing; I'm all for exploiting the sun. But there is something to be said for not maiming pedestrians in the process.
When these models were in the planning stages, did one do a walk-around and remember the Eleventh Commandment, Though shalt not place sharp objects at eye-level on busy city sidewalks?
In a world rapidly ripping teeter-totters out of children's playgrounds in the name of safety, you'd think this would have been a no-brainer.