Reminders that our society is becoming ever more authoritarian and ever more eager to constrain our activities “for our own good,” seem to be everywhere. One day it’s harassing people while they try to protect their homes from a wildfire, another day it’s attempting to close the beach when bad weather is forecast. Now comes the blanket ban on pedestrian traffic past the Highway One slide.
The closure of the highway is more than a minor inconvenience for those with jobs or business on the Monterey Peninsula and, in the not so distant past, telling locals who need to get to town that they can’t walk a few hundred yards to catch a ride with friends would have been inconceivable. But today it’s more or less par for the course.
While it’s understandable that CalTrans doesn’t want pedestrians in their way while they’re working, they never used to have a problem with people walking through at times when they wouldn’t be in the way. Pedestrians (and equestrians!) were allowed through much bigger and more dangerous slides in 1983 (see Jeff Norman’s Journals). And, if safety is the issue, we don’t think there’s much doubt that walking past this slide is safer than a lengthy car trip – especially one that involves crossing the Nacimiento Fergusson Rd. during a snowstorm.