Impatient drivers abuse woman who can't complete crosswalk in time

Mobility problems make Linda Coolen a target of abuse from drivers because she is slow to complete crosswalks before the light changes.

'When I go out, I can be sure that I'm going to be swore at, something thrown at me, horns blasting'

Linda Coolen, 69, struggles to get across crosswalks because of mobility problems. That regularly makes her a target of impatient drivers. (Allison Devereaux/CBC)

A Halifax senior with mobility issues says she faces verbal abuse nearly every time she leaves her west-end home.

Linda Coolen, whose numerous health problems include curvature of the spine and osteoarthritis, can't make it across the crosswalk near her home before the light changes.

"When I go out, I can be sure that I'm going to be swore at, something thrown at me, horns blasting or cutting me off," says Coolen, who uses a walker.

"I can't help it that I can't get around fast," the 69-year-old says.

"I was on the bridge here and some teenager threw a glass of Tim Hortons something at me. It struck the left side of my face."

Former runner and walker

Coolen wears a shoe on one foot, but because of multiple surgeries on the other, she wears thick socks and several plastic bags held up by elastic bands.

Coolen leaves her apartment about two or three times a week to run errands in her neighbourhood. Once a runner and walker, she says a trip to the store that used to be a four-minute jog now takes more than an hour.

A Halifax woman with mobility problems says she is regularly abused at crosswalks by drivers who are impatient. (CBC)

"My mobility is very important to me," says Coolen.  "If I don't do this walking and moving, I won't move at all. I get so crippled up and bent, the pain is terrible."

Neighbour witnesses mistreatment

"I don't understand why anybody's in so much of a hurry that they can't let an elderly woman an additional 10, five or 20 seconds," says Gavin Giles, Coolen's neighbour of 15 years.

"Not everybody is on the way to a medical emergency, to a fire or a life-or-death appointment."

Giles says most people give her ample time, but he has witnessed drivers blowing their horns, shouting profanities and nearly hitting Coolen.

He says the mistreatment isn't limited to a particular age group. "Younger people, older people, men, women, all types of vehicles going in all different directions," he says.

'I just feel smaller than I am'

Coolen says she makes a point to thank people who are patient, whether on the street or behind her in the grocery line. "I say, who should I thank — your mom, grandmother or whatever — for your kindness?"

"It hurts me too that I can't do what I used to do," says Coolen, who used to walk to manage stress.

She says when people shout at her, "I just feel smaller than I am."

"I want people to be respectful, have some respect," she says.

"I don't want anything from them except just be decent."

About the Author

Allison Devereaux

Allison Devereaux is a freelance radio producer and host in Halifax. Twitter: @allisondev