Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A few small sidewalk victories

All but this section of Runnymede sidewalk (above) has been cleared off.

Some of you recall that a few weeks back I wrote an op-ed (with lots of photos) "Walk This Way. If You Can," about my experience walking to work, a 4.2-mile hike along Providence and Queens Roads and Morehead Street. I mentioned several spots where unkempt sidewalks would pose obstacles to anyone in a wheelchair (or on roller skates, or trying to walk two abreast, for that matter). The one that brought the most comment from readers was my mention of several sections of the sidewalk along Runnymede, between Sharon Road and Colony Road. I pass there regularly in the car and walk there occasionally, and the sidewalk has been covered in leaves, mud and crud for at least a decade.

Finally! All but a small section has been cleared. (see photo at right).

I don't know if it was publicity or whether the city's transportation department contacted the property owners, but several Saturdays ago I spotted a guy with a big broom sweeping off the muck. And the scraggly holly bushes planted at the edge of the sidewalk (their prickly leaves making for a tight squeeze past the hollies) have been cut down.

I had called 311 to report a couple of spots on Providence Road where, in one case, ivy and in another case, azaleas, had grown over the sidewalk leaving only a narrow passage. The city DOT is on the case. The ivy's been cut back. The azaleas remain in need of severe pruning.

For the record, I have nothing against hollies and azaleas. I have planted, fertilized and otherwise tended both in our own yard, and they are valuable living things. Just not planted next to a too-narrow sidewalk.


Karl said...

Just think of all the sidewalks you could have if we weren't about to waste tens (and potentially hundreds) of millions of dollars on a Streetcar To Nowhere.

As long as people like you continue to advocate the massive wasting of money on things like streetcars, people like me will continue to stand against everything you want money spent on -- even if it's actually a good idea.

Dale Johnson said...

And here I was thinking that Mary was going to set the example for us, having cleared the sidewalk herself.

Her idea of victory is having the city do the work, or having the city force a homeowner to do the work.


Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

If the person who put up that fence along the sidewalk had properly graded and managed the runoff of their yard, the sidewalk wouldn't need clearing. Typical property owner not caring about whether they're a nuisance to their neighbors. All that biomass looks like it squeezed out from under their fence.

Pruning bushes should already be budgeted into the annual maintenance cost of putting in a sidewalk. So, unless the city is incompetent (which it very well may be, I wouldn't put it past them) the sidewalk maintenance shouldn't require taking money away from any other program because it should already be in the budget.

consultant said...

mud on the ground

mud on the ground

neighborhood lookin' like a fool with the mud on the ground

(repeat chorus)

consultant said...

In for a penny, in for a pound.

Sidewalks will be frequently used if:

-they are wide enough to comfortably hold two people standing next to each other

-they have a raised curb of at least 5 inches

-are visually exposed so the walker can see around them for a distance

-are relatively flat and maintained

-connect a place to a place

I don't know the traffic load on that street, but the fence and the very low curb make it look like a not so safe place to walk.

We tend not to take care of what we don't use.

There are way too many sidewalks in Atlanta, for example, that are essentially concrete "trails". They're about 18 inches wide. Bushes and trees crowd the edges of them. In many, many stretches the shrubbery has simply taken over the trail.

If cities or developers are going to build sidewalks, follow sensible guidelines and for the most part they will be used and maintained.

consultant said...

Karl & Dale,

That sounds like a hamburger joint.

Karl & Dale's Dog & Suds.

Anyway. It's all about transportation options. Options my friends.

No more root beer for the two of you.

Repeat after me: options are good, all eggs in one basket is bad. Okay?

Sidewalks, streetcars, light rail, commuter rail-good. Cars only-bad.

Keep repeating that daily for 3 months.

John said...

Yes options are good.

You want the streetcar? Fine - you PAY for the streetcar.

consultant said...


I know I "pay" for the streetcar. And you will too.

That's like going to war and asking each soldier to "pay" for their own equipment. "We all" pay for that equipment.

Didn't they teach you that in school?

consultant said...


I know it's hot outside and this is hard for you, but consider this. We live in the modern world. Almost all of the stuff around you that you depend on, you pay for indirectly. Water, lights, roads, schools, healthcare, food, all of it is paid through small payments by each of us. Some it is privately owned and run, some of it is public. But we've been able to create this "modern" world by pooling our funds to do things that we couldn't possibly do if, for instance, only you or a small group wanted to do it.

So John, are you with me so far? To sustain the "modern" world, we have to pool our resources. Pooling resources is how you get things like cities, economies, culture, houses of prostitution, etc.

So you see John, when you say stuff like, "I don't want to pay for no darn streetcar", that's fine. But you then can't say, "but make sure you keep my streets nice and clean and pot hole free." Because you see John, the road leading up to your house, you didn't pay for. "We all" pay for that road. Even though most people will never set foot on it, we all pay for it. So if I'm obligated to pay for your road, guess what John, you're obligated to pay for that streetcar line. That's the deal we make to live in a modern world.

Am I getting too deep for you John? Take a breather. Put down the bong. Get two ice cubes and rub them against your temples. Put your feet in cold water.

I know modernity (the modern world) is hard for a lot of people. There's a lot to keep up with. That's why Sarah Palin and the Tea Party people are out wailing to the moon. They can't understand why "they" have to pay for all this "stuff".

John, it's not like anyone is asking "YOU" to pay the entire cost of the streetcar line. The costs will be shared among everyone in the area. Isn't that fair? Isn't that right? Sure it is.

John, if we stop pooling our resources to do things, it will take about 29 days, 6 hours and 14 minutes for us to fall back into the 19th century (that's the 1800's John). Back to the days when clean water wasn't widely available, healthcare and public sanitation was minimal, and there was no electricity.

I know you probably don't think about those things John, what with your limited schooling and all (to a degree, it's not your fault). But that's the reality. That's the modern world.

Jumper said...

You have to pay for John's road several times over, Consultant. Developers' trucks tore it up the first time, and the government rebuilt it. Then because the private repair company didn't follow regulations - because regulations are EVIL - didn't you know that? - it will be repaired again. And probably again after that, too.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...



How's your research on William Lind and his alleged "Center" coming? You will recall my original observations and query:

Googling "American Conservative Center for Public Transportation" returns NINE hits, ALL of which have some relation to this ONE article of Mr. Lind's.

It appears that this "Center" has:

- no website
- no street address
- no phone number
- no members other than Mr. Lind

Can you provide any evidence at all that the "Center" is a genuine and authentic organization?

Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

$70 to $75 million to add an extra lane to 3.6 miles of I-485.



ThrowDownYourLeavyScreens said...

Part of the $70M-$75M is about $10M to build the long-planned flyover from inbound 521 (Johnston Rd.) to westbound 485. Another significant part of the cost is to widen the bridges over Big Sugar Creek, Little Sugar Creek, McAlpine Creek, McMullen Creek, Westinghouse Blvd, and NC 51.

The "simple" cost of the 3rd lane will be considerably less than the $70M price tag.

Anonymous said...

Consultant - in response to your first post, LOL, GOOD ONE!!!

On your second post - see, we can agree once in a while.

Congrats, Mary, on showing the stick-to-it-itiveness to stay on the appropriate people to get a sidewalk passible again. You should try this in other parts of town.