PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: City strollers, revolution is in the streets

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

30 – that’s an important number. Of course, it is not my age or my impending age. I barely recall that pre-children moment.
Many moons ago, I had a unorthodox Sunday School teacher named Lockie Ellis, who reached age 30 and then began to count backwards. I think it was a mental illusion.
In the old days of newspapering, we reporters used “- 30 -” as a signal for the end of our stories.
Legend has it that it comes from the Morse Code signal “XXX,” which was used to signify the end of a message.
But the “30” I’m interested in is the speed limit on the small streets throughout my downtown Tupelo neighborhood. I think it’s too fast.
OK, you’re saying: She’s just an aging woman who’s unhappy that anybody can speed by her house with impunity. No, that’s not it at all. True, I am vastly against speeding on any city street.
Drivers, with accelerating levels of exasperation and great misfortune, found themselves behind me on city streets. Beware 8:30 a.m. driving west on Jackson Street or south on Thomas Street. I am holding onto 30 mph like my life depended on it.
This cautious behavior is especially upsetting, I am sure, for the folks behind me on Thomas Street. It feels like an Indy 500 prelim site.
The city has declined to boost the limit there, so I mightily guard my accelerator foot.
Oddly enough, what feels like a snail’s crawl on Thomas Street feels like a Talladega Speedway lap on my little street. On the other narrow streets that run through much of Tupelo, a 30 mph speed feels like a mad dash.
Frankly, especially without sidewalks in some places, I’m getting a bit annoyed that the Grandpup and I have to jump out of the way to avoid being struck by oncoming vehicles. At night, I carry a camp lantern at least to warn motorists that we’re in the street.
I’ve been thinking for a while about asking the city to reduce the residential speed limits. I hope to get on my Neighborhood Association’s agenda as soon as possible to ask for discussion.
But meanwhile, it’s gotten a bit ridiculous at avoiding mayhem, especially on a sharp curve off Robins onto Walnut Street.
Last week, as an SUV came thundering toward me, I held up my hand to suggest the driver slow down a bit. He passed by, then stopped at the corner, opened his door and said, “I’m just going 30, lady.”
And I’m just wishing I could shoot out his tires, but I don’t have a permit to carry a gun.
For once, I’d like to look like former Gov. Kirk Fordice – but wearing a shirt – to walk out from my house to the street with a big sidearm strapped to my hip.
I think 20 mph is more like it on these narrow streets. For the wider boulevards, well, that’s something else. Perhaps this is my GrayPower call to arms. For a Velvet Revolution. To march – carefully where there are no sidewalks – to our City Fathers and Mothers for help. Let’s not even worry about the cost of putting up new signs. Let’s just all agree that we’ll use spray paint as we make those leisurely strolls.
“We Want 20!” could be our rallying cry, if I can only convince somebody else to put on their knee brace, comfortable walking shoes and go with me!
Patsy R. Brumfield writes a Thursday column. Contact her at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com. Follow her on Twitter @realnewsqueen.