52 WoLP #23: what we talk about when we talk about sharing the Park

A couple of things while walking through Lincoln Park this week, and they both have to do with sharing. West Seattle has more people in it than ever before, and that means Lincoln Park does too. By a mile.

We share the park with each other, which sometimes requires grace and skill, and we share the park with creatures, which always requires TLC and respect.

The first story involves a sea otter–did you know we have them? They’re interesting creatures: live in the water, hang out on the shore rocks sometimes, and make their homes on terra firma, in the bushes or under structures, etc. The one I saw this week, and who is making regular appearances down at the water’s edge, was finishing up dinner and just chillin on the beach. At the same time, a large group of elementary age kids was rambunctiously making its way up the walkway.

The kids and teachers stopped to watch the otter, along with the rest of us. Then a couple of the girls edged closer and closer until finally they chased the otter back into the water. I mentioned to one of the adults that that was actually illegal, it’s against the law to harass marine mammals on shore, and she shrugged as if the kids were making the rules now.

I don’t want to get all in the teacher’s biz, but wasn’t that, oh I don’t know, a LEARNING OPPORTUNITY? . Yeah, I think it was. The kids need to learn we share the park. We share nature. We don’t own it.

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The next opportunity came just yesterday when I was walking down the center trail to the shore at sunset–a little dusky, a beautiful evening. I hear voices behind me, yelling back and forth, approaching quickly. Before I have a chance to turn and look, three cyclists come racing by at full speed, downhill, about two inches of margin between them and me. Then another. And another, and yes, several more. I finally stop and look behind me and there are even more barreling down the trail. I ask how many more, and someone says, a lot! I’d say there were about 30 twenty-somethings in all.

So I step back onto the trail and let them know I’m going to keep walking and they need to slow down for pedestrians, which they immediately do and I give them full credit for that. They’re just having fun, and I understand the allure of that trail, I’m a bike rider and live for the downhill. But at one point I was nearly nailed against a tree by a guy who didn’t know the trail tightens up at one turn and then another.

Again, they need to balance their fun with the rights of others on the trail to feel and be safe, not to mention the creatures that cross the trail all the time. I never thought I’d say this to bike people, but that gang needs to share the road better.

So, the park is busy. We all love it. So, in the immortal words of Sgt. Esterhaus, hey, let’s be careful out there.

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52 WoLP is a year long dear diary to my favorite park in Seattle. Enjoy!

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