Sunday, June 27, 2010

In Charlotte, walking has pleasures but problems, too

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:

13 comments:

James said...
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Sam said...
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Escapist said...

Who is Sam? And why is he so obsessed with Harvard? I assume that's a mocking New England accent - you might want to spell it like "Hah-vahd" which would be more Boston. "Haaaaavaard" kind of sounds like your yelling at a passing car.

Ray said...

Why doesn't the city just fine the condo company? Or sue them in court? Or slap a lein on their deed for the costs of clearing it? I bet all of those are within it's power and that might get someone's attention.

mitch said...

Sounds like someone is in damage control mode..I'm not sure Mary but I don't think I recall you stating your concern for the wheelchair bound in your article. It sounded very me, me ,me,me...

Larry said...

Until every inch of this county is accessible so people can get to Doctors and food then we can not sleep at night!

Oh wait. don't we have those services which come out and take people to the doctor for free, and bring food to them for free?

Anyway forget that, we should require all builders to build front porches on condos, houses, townhouses, offices, banks, government offices, fire stations and retail stores so we can set and wave at each other as we walk down the required big ole sidewalks on both side of the streets.

That way we can all get to know each other and will never have all that mean stuff going on.

alisha said...

Wow! I can't believe how many assholes read and comment on these stories. I hope for every hateful person in this town, there are at least 10 nice and polite ones.

I still contend Charlotte Observer should charge fees to register to make comments. Perhaps if they had to pay to complain about the content they get for free on the internet they would be a little less snippy.

consultant said...

Lets start looking out for the common good.

In most places, property adjacent to a public right of way like a sidewalk is the responsibility of the property owner.

That fence seems to be for privacy, security and in this (and other gated properties), an abdication of responsibilities for the well being of the greater community. In this case right outside the subdivision.

Community starts outside your home.

Larry said...

alisha said... Wow! I can't believe how many assholes read and comment on these stories. I hope for every hateful person in this town, there are at least 10 nice and polite ones.

I still contend Charlotte Observer should charge fees to register to make comments. Perhaps if they had to pay to complain about the content they get for free on the internet they would be a little less snippy.
---------------------------------

I get it irony, good post.

Ryan said...

Alisha, I agree with you. It is completely disheartening to read all of the negativity on the message boards throughout the Observer's site. I imagine most of these people "read" these articles to express how much they hate everything.

Down with all of the negative nitwits!!

candyselley said...

If everyone walked to work one day a week, our air quality would improve, their health would improve and theeir carbon footprint would shrink (less oil bought from other countries). You set a great example. Riding a bike or walking on an errand has the same effect. Thanks for your example, Mary.

2whls3spds said...

I would judge from the fence that they don't consider the sidewalk as part of their responsibility, perhaps it is time to remind them of that with a fine? or perhaps a bill from the city for cleaning it up?

@Larry...those very services you describe are being cut back everyday due to lack of funding. I am sure you would be squawking if the road you took to work was torn up and left partially blocked for years on end.

Aaron

J said...

Larry wrote, "Until every inch of this county is accessible so people can get to Doctors and food then we can not sleep at night!

Oh wait. don't we have those services which come out and take people to the doctor for free, and bring food to them for free?"

No, we don't. Nothing is "free." There are groups like the Metrolina Association for the Blind who offer rides to shopping & doctors for their members. But MAB and others like it depend on donations and/or government programs to pay the costs of these trips. Without money, the trips cease to exist. Private donations to every such organization are down due to the rotten economy, and these agencies are the first ones to get funding cuts from government programs.

Added to those obstacles are people like you, spewing hatred toward any person who goes from Point A to Point B by any means other than car. You voice this hatred by opposing every dollar allocated for transportation to anything other than roads.