In my life as an associate editor at the Observer I've written a lengthy piece about my experiences walking 4-plus miles to work once a week in Charlotte, since March. Here's the piece, with a photo slideshow.
But it's too bad the slideshow with the package doesn't show the evil "goat path" along Runnymede, where the sidewalk has not been cleared, to my observation, since at least 2001. Doreen Szymanski of the Charlotte Department of Transportation told me she believed the city had cleared it, at least once. I drive that way almost daily, however, and have never seen it cleared of muck and leaves. I've posted a photo below.
Some adjoining property owners – who ARE RESPONSIBLE because property owners bear the responsibility for keeping sidewalks clear of obstructions – have not-so-helpfully planted holly bushes there, the kind with prickly leaves. So if the bushes ever grow you'll be crowded off the goat path and onto the teensy planting strip.
I'm already getting emails from readers, including one from someone who's a quadriplegic. She writes:
"As a quadriplegic and wheelchair user, I blog about wheelchair pedestrian safety frequently. So many people fail to recognize that, as paratransit cuts continue, even more blind people and wheelchair users are taking to the streets to get around to doctor's appointments, grocery stores, etc. as a necessity. Passable sidewalks, street signals and driver education are urgent concerns that need to be discussed in communities."
Another reader tells of stealth pruning:
"After years of watching walkers and joggers (me included) duck -- or walk in the street to avoid -- low hanging branches on the sidewalk next to a large condo complex, I took my loppers in the dead of night and did some heavy pruning.Now, once a year or so, I just have to do some light maintenance. I leave the clippings -- in the case of the first year, the limbs -- on the grounds of the condo complex, thinking they would get the hint. Now, several years later, I STILL have to do my midnight pruning."
Here's the photo of the Runnymede goat path, with holly bushes: