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Thread: USA TODAY Article - Sidewalks? Not in my front yard

  1. #1
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    USA TODAY Article - Sidewalks? Not in my front yard

    Article link: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/...idewalks_N.htm
    HIGHLIGHT:

    RESISTANCE TO:
    It just seems like such a waste of the town's resources to be building sidewalks where residents don't really need them or want them," she says. She would rather spend the money on the library, schools and parks. "I don't see why we're wasting the energy and oxygen talking about sidewalks," she says.
    VALUE OF:
    Sidewalks encourage people to walk, reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths and create a sense of community, says Megan Lewis of the American Planning Association, a research group for city and county planners. "If you provide sidewalks, you're giving people a choice on how they can get from one place to another," she says.
    Communities discussed in article:
    Northbrook, IL
    Red Wing, MN
    Naples, FL
    Blackman Township, MI
    Mukwonago, WI

    Check out the comments.

    What is your fair community's rule about sidewalks ?
    Required in the city and mostly now a replacement program
    and in the county can be waived during the plat process.
    Oddball
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Where are the kids supposed to play?

    Sidewalks are more than a means for pedestrian transportation. They are a place for the neighborhood kids to play.

    Ever go through a suburban development w/ no walks and see all the kids out by the streets edge, on their bigwheels but in their own driveways because they arent allowed in the street, and they cant ride to Johnny's house 2 doors down :/

  3. #3
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    "Some opponents say adding sidewalks will fuel crime, he says, "but we're not buying that."

    That has got to be the stupidest argument I've ever heard.
    Do you want to pet my monkey?

  4. #4
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by KSharpe View post
    "Some opponents say adding sidewalks will fuel crime, he says, "but we're not buying that."

    That has got to be the stupidest argument I've ever heard.
    Yeah, that one killed a bunch of my brain cells...

    My fair city requires them on both sides of the street in new developments. If someone builds on an infill lot in the city that lacks a sidewalk, they are required to build one.

    The city is going back through and installing sidewalks on one side of the street where they are not present. Once that is done, they will come back and start doing the second side of the street. They are pretty much starting at the schools/community service facilities and radiating outward from there.

    We have a couple of large lot (1+ acre) neighborhoods that we will not be adding sidewalks to because there just aren't enough people benefiting to justify the cost. They don't want them anyway.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    we're having an issue regarding sidewalks in our town. a developer put in an 84-unit 55+ development and agreed to put in a sidewalk to connect his development to a main road. well, the firechief lives between the entrance of the development and the main road and doesn't want a sidewalk to run in front of his house. he's worried about kids using the sidewalk (god forbid!) and hanging out in front of his house. *sigh*

    re: where kids play-

    a woman on my soccer team is building a new house. she was talking to another woman about the location of her lot and how it is a bit small but located on the cul-de-sac. and the other woman said, "but that's okay. you don't need a big lot, the kids can play in the street."
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by KSharpe View post
    "Some opponents say adding sidewalks will fuel crime, he says, "but we're not buying that."

    That has got to be the stupidest argument I've ever heard.
    Adding roads fuels crime too. So does adding houses. Ooh, and stores. Better ban all development because development fuels crime.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Probably should not comment on this...I like sidewalks, but....in some neighborhoods it is a waste of money. The traffic is low and slow and people walk, bike (and kids play) in the street. A sidewalk can just be unnecessary. Why waste the money if the hood does not want it? There are plenty of areas that need sidewalks for many reasons including safety.

    P.S. The crime argument is total BS....what the criminals could not get to my house without a sidewalk?
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Sidewalks have been neglected in Mattoon for decades. They used to allocate funds and fix what was considered in the worse condition and dangerous, but it really never made a dent and unless they fixed the stretch in front of your house, you rarely noticed it. The funds barely made a dent in the problem and were often used to fix sidewalks not in that bad of shape in front of affluent community members homes.

    Starting in about 2000, the city darn near went bankrupt and sidewalk funding was one of the first to get cut. This is the first year since they have budgeted money for sidewalk repair. Since the budget crisis, we have a new Public Works Director who suggested instead of the piece meal policy of the past, to rebuild the entire sidewalk network from the gound up. Within 5 years, have connected routes across the City. No matter where you are, you will be less than 3 blocks from an improved sidewalk that would take you anywhere in town.

    Of course the proposal is being met with opposition because people only want the 50 feet in front of their house fixed and to be damned with the rest of you.

    In addition to this 5 year plan, we also have a "materials reimbursement program". The city will pay for the concrete and you pay for the labor for replacing the sidewalk in front of your house. They require a $500 deposit to insure you follow their standards and refund it after they approve the walk. If you are a do-it-youselfer, you can get it done for practiacally nothing.

    Recent article on the plan I debated posting the link because the comments are down right embarassing to the community

  9. #9
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I live in one of the many newer subidivisions where sidewalks are required per the subidivision ordinance, but developers can apply for waivers, which always get approved. Our driveway is so steep our little girl can't ride her tricycle on it, so we are always in the street. When I'd take her for walks in her stroller I'd have to walk in the street, and pass tons of other families in the street. Thankfully we live in a somewhat secluded and low-traffic area. But I really wish we had sidewalks.

    My grandma says I'm lucky, cause it is such a pain to kill the weeds that grow up through her sidewalk, and to trim around it.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Flying Monkeys View post
    Probably should not comment on this...I like sidewalks, but....in some neighborhoods it is a waste of money. The traffic is low and slow and people walk, bike (and kids play) in the street. A sidewalk can just be unnecessary. Why waste the money if the hood does not want it? There are plenty of areas that need sidewalks for many reasons including safety.

    P.S. The crime argument is total BS....what the criminals could not get to my house without a sidewalk?
    I can agree with you that in some super low-density neighborhoods they are not needed. (Of course, my follow up argument would be - Why is the super low-density neighborhood needed in the first place? )

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    we're having an issue regarding sidewalks in our town. a developer put in an 84-unit 55+ development and agreed to put in a sidewalk to connect his development to a main road. well, the firechief lives between the entrance of the development and the main road and doesn't want a sidewalk to run in front of his house. he's worried about kids using the sidewalk (god forbid!) and hanging out in front of his house. *sigh*
    That's so stupid. Wouldn't the fire chief be concerned about the public safety of the 84 units of senior citizens walking to the main road?

    I'm close enough where I can come to the public meeting, call him an idiot and speed back home.

  12. #12
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    Sidewalks increase crime and are dangerous to pedestrians!!!

    I am the president of my homes association. The neighborhood has 302 homes built from 1959 to 1962. Almost all are ranches of 1700sf to 2300sf on 1/4 acre lots. The area is a popular suburban (white) city in the midwest. The values of the homes are $190K-$250K. There's your context, now the meat of the story...

    A few years ago we had a resident with kids ask if a sidewalk could be built along the street. The city allots a small amount of funds for neighborhood groups to petition for new sidewalks in areas that previously had none. The sidewalk construction costs were covered by the city and would be free to everyone involved. As a homes association, we decided to let the home owners that would have had the walk built in front of their house (in the R.O.W.), vote on it. A few homeowners got real vocal in opposition and went door to door to convince other owners to vote it down. The reason they cited to vote it down were documented as:

    1. Sidewalks are dangerous to pedestrians
    · Concerned that people will be injured when backing out of driveway.

    2. Sidewalks are dangerous to the homeowner
    · Concerned that criminals will be too close to garage and house and will rob or attack.
    · Sidewalk will encourage “outside” people to walk through neighborhood and cause problems.

    3. Sidewalks look terrible

    4. Lowers resale value

    Other concerns:
    · Loss of trees/shrubs
    · Loss of yard space
    · Damage to irrigation
    · Liability to homeowner if pedestrian is injured

    We had 17 owners vote it down and 1 owner vote yes(the owner that made the original request). One resident said it would destroy the rural character of the street. When does 1/4 lots feel rural?

    Oh well. The homes assoc felt we dodged a bullet because the loudest homeowner said he would sue each of us on the board if it was approved. Everyone on the board thought it would be good to have a sidewalk, but then again, none of us lived on that street.
    I wish I had a sidewalk in front of my house. Even if it triples the crime rate! (ha!)

  13. #13
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by slimwhitman View post
    Sidewalk will encourage “outside” people to walk through neighborhood and cause problems.
    Thank you for posting this otherwise I would not have believed that people really do use these arguments. This makes me laugh and cry at the same time! Oh, the stupidity! Where is the evidence for this? I'd love to see a cartoon based on this: a new sidewalk is built and criminals are immediately attracted to walk down it, just because it's there... that would make it easy to catch them, eh?

    I wonder if you could make a sort of counter-argument, that au contraire, sidewalks indicate community connectedness and cohesiveness! Communities without sidewalks give me the impression that people keep to themselves and drive everywhere they need to go.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Planning Fool's avatar
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    I'm glad just about everyone here sees the absurdity of the theory that sidewalks mean more crime. I mean, maybe I'm just lazy, but I would think most criminals (especially in the typical suburban or rural areas that are contemplating putting in sidewalks) would probably be likely to use a vehicle to do their dirty work, seeing it wouldn't be too efficient to be walking down the sidewalk with the 50' television you just stole from Mr. Smith's house.....in which case, they don't need sidewalks to rob houses! Am I wrong in my thinking?
    Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. :-o
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  15. #15
    We have a major arterial in town that was little more than a paved cowpath. We managed to get Federal Aid for reconstruction and included sidewalks. During the course of public meetings, the neighborhood howled about sidewalks ala slimwhitman's post above. We went forward with the walks anyway. After the project was completed we took quiet satisfaction whenever we saw someone walking the sidewalks because the neighbors had all told us nobody would ever use them.

    Earlier this year, we held a public meeting regarding an intersecting street we also plan to do with FA. Folks that originally opposed the walks on the major arterial actually stood up at the meeting to say they were wrong and that they loved the sidewalks.

    It doesn't happen very often, but that kind of stuff makes my day.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    It doesn't happen very often, but that kind of stuff makes my day.
    If you build it, they will come Good for you!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by slimwhitman View post
    1. Sidewalks are dangerous to pedestrians
    · Concerned that people will be injured when backing out of driveway.
    This is the funniest one to me. So, in other words, sidewalks might cause the neighborhood to have pedestrians, because if there are currently pedestrians - wouldn't there be the exact same chance of hitting them? Or do they currently walk so far out into the street (or through people's yards) that it isn't be possible?

  18. #18
    i think this is funny because i just finished reading the part about sidewalks (literally at like 6pm) in the Death and Life of Great American Cities. I grew up in an area with sidewalks...and yes, we played on them (gasp). At about 10 years old we realized we could use the sidewalks to break into peoples houses and steal their tv's.....juuuuussstt kiddinngg

    It was pretty nice being able to walk to friends houses. I now live in a neighborhood with absolutely no sidewalks. Everytime I drive down the street out of the neighborhood there's little kids on bikes or rollerblades in the middle of the street.....someone is gonna hit one of them someday and its going to be awful.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Maybe I’m just being stupid…

    It seems to me that part of urban planning/management is to separate as clearly as possible the public from the private domain.

    The norm, I assume, would be that roads and ancillary structures like sidewalks, light poles, road-side parking spots are public space. Roads serving an area with a density beyond the utterly rural need sidewalks to separate pedestrian traffic from car traffic. The city builds them whether jackass XYZ likes them or not, in the same way they build sewers and roads one very block, not just where residents like them.

    In a completely private/gated community I guess it should be up to the owners but I would argue that all maintenance should then be up to them and that any “collector” that disgorges dozens of families onto a single exit is, by definition, a commercial enterprise and should re taxed as such and obviously charged for emergency service coverage.
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    Maybe I’m just being stupid…

    It seems to me that part of urban planning/management is to separate as clearly as possible the public from the private domain.

    The norm, I assume, would be that roads and ancillary structures like sidewalks, light poles, road-side parking spots are public space. Roads serving an area with a density beyond the utterly rural need sidewalks to separate pedestrian traffic from car traffic. The city builds them whether jackass XYZ likes them or not, in the same way they build sewers and roads one very block, not just where residents like them.

    In a completely private/gated community I guess it should be up to the owners but I would argue that all maintenance should then be up to them and that any “collector” that disgorges dozens of families onto a single exit is, by definition, a commercial enterprise and should re taxed as such and obviously charged for emergency service coverage.
    Here in NSW Councils technically own the land from the road for say 2 metres, therefore when wanting to put a footpath in, they just build it.

    and yes technically council is responsible to mow this land, but more often than not, the property owners just do it.
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  21. #21
         
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    Quote Originally posted by slimwhitman View post
    The homes assoc felt we dodged a bullet because the loudest homeowner said he would sue each of us on the board if it was approved.
    On what grounds? I know there are some weird judges out there, but most would toss it out. Of course, just the threat of a lawsuit makes most people buckle with fears of legal fees and court appearances.

    Even if the suit was ruled as valid, he could not sue the individual members of the board in a personal capacity; any suit would be leveled at the board itself.

    Time and time again, people's fears about sidewalks/bikepaths etc. have been shown to be unfounded when those pedestrian thoroughfares actually RAISE the desirability of their neighborhoods.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    We (try) to require sidewalks in all new development ... understanding that here this always means redevelopment, cuz the greenfields are long gone. We have many, many residential streets (1/4 acre lots) with no sidewalks, and it is incredibly difficult to get them in, for all of the reasons cited above.

    Even when we can require them we hear the argument "but they won't connect to anything". For a long time we required a "petition and waiver of hearing" along with the sidewalk easement, thinking that when the time came to build them the owners wouldn't or couldn't object. How naïve we were. So then we just required developers to build them, arguing that, at some point, the system will be completed even if only a little bit at a time.

    The most recent episode in this saga resulted from a sidewalk we required on three streets abutting a new senior rental building with 50 units. One sidewalk deadended at a property line of a SF dwelling. That guy complained that people would be walking across his lawn. The solution was to stub the sidewalk out to the street (low volume residential street), which the Traffic Engineers objected to because of the "safety issues".

    My solution (taken from the Traffic Engineer's handbook) was to put a 10 foot diameter cul-de-sac at the end of the sidewalk so the wheelchairs could turn around, but nobody took me seriously.

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    I'm surprised that the Home Zone initiative has not been brought up in this thread, but then perhaps its yet to make any kind of impact in the US.

    Essentially, Home Zones attempt to reclaim the streets for community uses, and often include removal of pavements, and the introduction of shared pedestrian/car space. They have been implemented in Europe over the last 40 years, and Runcorn was the first town to try it out in England in 1969.

    With reference to people saying that there may be a case for no provision of sidewalks in super low density areas, very often Home Zone schemes are implemented in areas of very high density residential development, particularly terracing (row housing).

    This website is the 'official' Home Zone website for the UK.

    This website is the Government guidance on design and implementation of Home Zone schemes, produced by the Department for Transport.

    Of some relevance to the above is the recently produced Department for Transport's Manual for Streets which provides further design guidance for lightly-trafficked residential streets (although I feel that many of the principles could be applied across a variety of street types).

    Apologies if this bores some of you rigid, reading some of your comments I thought some of you would like (or maybe need ) to have a look at some alternative approaches/ideas to sidewalk/pedestrian/vehicle 'interface'...

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HarryFossettsHat View post
    I'm surprised that the Home Zone initiative has not been brought up in this thread, but then perhaps its yet to make any kind of impact in the US.

    Essentially, Home Zones attempt to reclaim the streets for community uses, and often include removal of pavements, and the introduction of shared pedestrian/car space. They have been implemented in Europe over the last 40 years, and Runcorn was the first town to try it out in England in 1969.
    We do... in Florida we call it 'Livable Communities'.... There are standards that try to accommodate more modes than just the auto. We have pavement removal schemes; we call them 'road diets'. Same stuff, different names.

    The problem is trucks; it is hard to accommodate everyone on a truck route. Yet, some people insist. The movement of goods in this country via truck is sky rocketing and is becoming critical. The livable community standards are good....but people need to understand that they can not choke a truck route. Some understanding of the importance of the movement of goods to our economy has to be accepted...

    How does you scheme treat the truck routes?
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  25. #25
         
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    Quote Originally posted by Flying Monkeys View post
    We do... in Florida we call it 'Livable Communities'.... There are standards that try to accommodate more modes than just the auto. We have pavement removal schemes; we call them 'road diets'. Same stuff, different names.

    The problem is trucks; it is hard to accommodate everyone on a truck route. Yet, some people insist. The movement of goods in this country via truck is sky rocketing and is becoming critical. The livable community standards are good....but people need to understand that they can not choke a truck route. Some understanding of the importance of the movement of goods to our economy has to be accepted...

    How does you scheme treat the truck routes?
    I'm not completely au fait with the ins-and-outs of how streets are selected for Home Zone development, but in my experience they are residential streets where truck movements are rarely, if ever, experienced. Even then its highly unlikely to be an HGV (articulated trucks), more likely the fixed cab trucks with weight limits of a ton (e.g. removal vans, furniture delivery etc).

    I would be very surprised if any of the major routes into/out of towns or streets which serve industrial estates are selected for Home Zone initiatives.

    As a slight tangent - I assume the US utilises rail freight far more than we do over here? Seems odd that you guys are heading towards increased truck freight when we're trying to do the opposite!

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