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Dangerous Sidewalks

Hard HatWe live in Southern California, and our lovely state enjoys in my opinion the best weather in the West.  It is never too extreme for too long.  Despite this beautiful setting, Californians do not seem to be taking advantage of their comfortable outdoors.

Since I don”t like to go to the gym, I enjoy taking daily walks, sometimes for excecise and sometimes just to take a stroll down the street and get some fresh air.  Most of the time I go it alone. Except the other day, my wife decided to start joining me on my walks.

You would think that since you are out walking with someone, you can walk side by side and engage in some good conversation as you walk.  The problem is you can”t in the majority of non-metropolitan cities.  Most sidewalks (again, except in some metropolitan areas) are too narrow to fit two people walking next to each others without continuously bumping arms, let alone allowing one or two people to walk in the opposite direction without causing everyone to step aside off the side walk to allow the others to pass.  From what I understood, the contractual codes are for side walks to be only wide enough to accomodate someone (ONE) on a wheelchair in one direction.  The reality is, for the longest time, our cities were designed with the primary objective of ensuring efficient flow of auto traffic and not much more.

The more I thought about it the more I realized how flawed and short sighted this design was. Lately I”ve been noticing some experimental towns where an area is designed and built with “city walking” in mind.  In other words, the housing, office buildings, retail businesses are all mixed together somehow in order to allow the residents to “walk to work, and walk to play”.  However these are experimental and the jury is still out on their success. Aditionally these experimental designs are limited to building a town from scratch. In the mean time, what do we do in our existing neighborhoods with the barely “wide enough for a wheelchair” sidewalks?

As I prepare my next post on the benefits and possibilities of having wider sidewalks in our cities.  I hope to see some feedback from readers.  After the “benefits and possibilities” post, I plan on looking at the cost both to the city”s budget and the taxpayers. Then finally I plan to write a final post on my conclusion as it relates to whether it is a worthwile endeavor for the citizenry…

Stay tuned and I hope to see comments from other readers!’

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