I am writing this letter in response to Judy Rosenthal’s letter to the Great Neck Record on July 9.
As a parent with young children, I try to use the sidewalks in my neighborhood whenever I can to take my children for walks to town and to the park. I use a double stroller, which has the same width as a wheelchair. Baker Hill Road has very narrow sidewalks. Despite some repairs of the sidewalk cracks, there are sharp changes in slopes on the sidewalks, making double stroller pushing and wheelchair pushing a challenge in maintaining one’s balance. Also, due to the presence of hedges protruding in the narrow sidewalks, it is virtually impossible to push a double stroller along a narrow sidewalk without one of the children getting smacked in the head by a bush, shrub or branch. For some of the blocks on which we walk, we have no choice other than pushing the stroller on the street.
When my husband walks with me, he walks on my side while I push the stroller, in order to be more noticeable and to warn oncoming traffic. Baker Hill Road and Fairview Avenue have peaks and valleys and drivers cannot see the pedestrians until they are close to them. My husband stands on high alert when we walk, as do I.
I agree with Ms. Rosenthal that there should be a dialogue within the Great Neck community to discuss sensitive topics regarding safety and diversity, and bias against groups of people which Ms. Rosenthal exhibits. She demonstrates her bias against the Orthodox community in the words she chooses and the assumptions she has made. She writes that the people walking with the wheelchair were “…sending a clear message to our non-observant community. The clear message being, ‘We will block the streets (with our bodies) because you (non-observant residents) shouldn’t be driving.’” If one substitutes any other ethnic group, gender group, age group, etc., those groups would certainly be offended by her assumptions. They are nasty and riddled with hatred.
Community leaders should address the need for community decorum; however, the mayor of the village should not be tasked to teach etiquette to those individuals who have no consideration to themselves or others. A letter from the police department to all community leaders and all mayors should address this as a safety issue.
Finally, just as unsafe behavior should have no place in our community, neither should bias, intolerance and prejudice. Veiling bias and hostility under the guise of a safety issue is disingenuous.