Car Free in Cortland (Part VII)

The Politics of Walking

By Emma Ignaszewski

It’s been almost 25 years since the Unknown Protester stepped in front of a column of military tanks and halted their advancement on Tian’anmen Square.

It’s been almost 60 years since community members in Montgomery, Alabama, elected to boycott the buses until the seating was desegregated – many people chose to walk in lieu of supporting an unconstitutional, immoral, and systematic policy of racial discrimination.

And it has now been over 100 years since a group of suffragists marched over 225 miles from New York City to Washington, D.C., in protest of sex-based restrictions on voting rights.

Just like the raised fist of the Black Panthers or the three-fingered lips-to-air symbol in the sweepingly popular Hunger Games series, how and when one chooses to walk can translate into a vigorous political statement.

I don’t walk just because I don’t have a car. It’s not a last resort. I don’t truly view it as “alternative transportation” because I believe that self-motivated transportation (by foot, wheelchair, crutches) is our first resort.

So what am I fighting for? What am I walking for? My health, the environment, safety, to experience my community. These are priorities that can all be politicized as causes. And supporting each of them makes an investment far more valuable to myself and future generations than a car payment.

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