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Thread: Why are people so angry over having to put in sidewalks?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    Anyone ever come across a residential alley that had sidewalk running along one side of it? If so, why would it be there?

    I have an alley that has sidewalk along one side, about the length of 4 lots. I'm talking about a typical dirt alley in an older neighborhood, not one of those new urbany type alleys.
    It may not really be a sidewalk. It may be left over from the days when trash was piled up in the alleys. If the homes are old enough (late 1940s or earlier) those neighborhoods generated additional trash through burning coal for heat. We have been born in a time when recycling and ecology were seen as good (post crying indian). I am willing to bet that earlier generations generated a lot more garbage than what our parents did. I can recall sorting out recyclables and taking them to U of M Dearborn as a kid.

  2. #27
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    It may not really be a sidewalk. It may be left over from the days when trash was piled up in the alleys. If the homes are old enough (late 1940s or earlier) those neighborhoods generated additional trash through burning coal for heat. We have been born in a time when recycling and ecology were seen as good (post crying indian). I am willing to bet that earlier generations generated a lot more garbage than what our parents did. I can recall sorting out recyclables and taking them to U of M Dearborn as a kid.
    Thanks. That was a thought that had occurred to me. It is indeed in an area of pre-WWII homes, so I'm willing to bet you are correct.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  3. #28
    When it comes to new development and the sidewalks that may come with I think resident's concerns could be circulation. With the car being the dominant form of transportation in U.S right now people become very concerned when their right of way as a motorist is impeded. This becomes evident when a new development wants to add a sidewalk that could remove one or more lanes and cause traffic congestion slowing residents daily travels. Even if the added sidewalk doesn't remove a lane, it will encourage more people to walk. More people walking suggest the addition of traffic slowing and pedestrian safety features such as crosswalks, medians,stop lights, and lower speed limits; and motorist simply do not like to slow down. So what it really comes down to is that motorist do not want the possibility of sidewalks interfering with their daily driving/circulation.

  4. #29
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    Where I'm from, those opposed aren't so much against putting in a new sidewalk. Instead, it's their tax money they don't want spent. There are a lot of elderly people around my community and it seems that to them, if they managed to get along fine without them in the past that they aren't a good idea now. But car circulation has gone up dramatically and walking in the street just isn't as safe as it once was.

  5. #30
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Not a lot of pushback on sidewalks in general here. However, we get pushback on new sidewalks when someone comes into an existing space and wants to put a new use in it. For some crazy reason, our code requires that folks doing these sorts of reuses have to bring things up to current code, including new sidewalks if they aren't already there. I can understand that concern- its usually a small business wanting to go into a cheap space, not some big new development. We are working on exempting them from this requirement so these small businesses have a place to go.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    . . . I've had people threaten anything they could so they don't have to put in sidewalks. Why the aversion, and are your communities like this? . . .
    Much of New York City already has sidewalks.

    But homeowners in communities without sidewalks are generally very opposed to having them put in; this is due to increased personal expense, potential legal liability, and considerable personal upkeep (my bolding):
    New York City law requires property owners to, at their own cost, install, construct, reconstruct, repave and repair the sidewalk adjacent to their properties, including the intersection quadrant and pedestrian ramps for corner properties, in accordance with DOT specifications. Section 7-210 of the NYC Administrative Code makes property owners potentially liable for personal injuries caused by their failure to maintain reasonably safe sidewalks. Property owners must keep their sidewalks clean and are also responsible for snow removal. Property owners are encouraged to perform repairs to their sidewalks before a condition becomes a defect which would give rise to a violation. Upon failure of a property owner to install, construct, repave, reconstruct or repair the sidewalk pursuant to a Notice of Violation issued by DOT after an inspection, DOT may perform the work or hire a contractor to perform the work and the Department of Finance (DOF) will bill the property owner pursuant to Section 19-152 of the NYC Administrative Code.
    Full text:
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/inf...walk-faq.shtml

  7. #32
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    Much of New York City already has sidewalks.

    But homeowners in communities without sidewalks are generally very opposed to having them put in; this is due to increased personal expense, potential legal liability, and considerable personal upkeep (my bolding):Full text:
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/inf...walk-faq.shtml
    yeah, because there's nothing like walking by an abandoned building with an unmaintained Manhattan sidewalk in front of it (thanks to this rule), with frozen snow on it. Many a bone has been broken this way.

    I think that's the issue. Mandating that everybody has to yield an easement for and/or finance to build outside one's lot line sidewalks is fine if the city takes them over and maintains them. If, as in NYC, it is wholly up to the owner, then there are often problems.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    yeah, because there's nothing like walking by an abandoned building with an unmaintained Manhattan sidewalk in front of it (thanks to this rule), with frozen snow on it. Many a bone has been broken this way.

    I think that's the issue. Mandating that everybody has to yield an easement for and/or finance to build outside one's lot line sidewalks is fine if the city takes them over and maintains them. If, as in NYC, it is wholly up to the owner, then there are often problems.
    Cismontane, I'm on your side!

    There's a plethora of problems, (not "issues"), with these ordinances. I'm just trying to be upbeat during the holiday season. You'll read plenty of morbid stuff from me if you stick around.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    Cismontane, I'm on your side!

    There's a plethora of problems, (not "issues"), with these ordinances. I'm just trying to be upbeat during the holiday season. You'll read plenty of morbid stuff from me if you stick around.
    I make a point of calling 311 every time I encounter one of those, although, frankly, the last two years haven't been cold enough for this to really be a problem. My Manhattan favorite was 4 years back when a Soho landowner decided to leave the entirety of Sullivan Street in Soho between Duarte Square and that big empty lot bounded by Sullivan, Varick, Canal and Grand unmaintained for the entire winter. The entire block became one big ad hoc ice field. If you needed to walk into Soho from the 1 station at Varick and Canal you'd have to walk about 400 feet east to get around that block or take your chances with a cracked skull.. Eventually, DOT solved the problem by fencing off the sidewalk altogether, and I think the fence is still there. I guess the cost of an ugly chain link fence was cheaper than the cost of simply maintaining the sidewalk, although the fines must've been huge.

  10. #35
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm

    The threat of running over animals, adults and small children is a great reason to slow the hell down.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  11. #36
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    It seems no matter who or what is being constructed or renovated, contractors, owners, and everyone involved in a building project objects to sidewalks being built. It feels like despite all of our regulations regarding storm water runoff, fire codes, etc. sidewalks get the most backlash. I've had people build in a neighboring town because they didn't require sidewalks (the owners didn't realize fuel costs in the long run were a lot more), and I've had people threaten anything they could so they don't have to put in sidewalks. Why the aversion, and are your communities like this? We had one man at a public meeting even say, "We don't need sidewalks. People walk in the street."
    A lack of desire for shoveling sidewalks in the winter.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    A lack of desire for shoveling sidewalks in the winter.
    And how long does it take to make two passes with a snowblower?

    Mike

  13. #38
    Cyburbian Doberman's avatar
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't Sidewalks taxed as special assessments? That means putting in a sidewalk could be at behest of the people or just by the discretion of the city. Either way the resulting increased increase in property values will cause an increase property tax. It usually boils down to money.

  14. #39
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    So I have a different take on sidewalks. I recently had a back injury. It kept me sidelined for about 2 months. In that period of time I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of doctors that specialized in this area.

    Back pain (mostly associated with herniated and bulging discs) is one of the most common medical complaints in hospitals. Also once you have a bulging or herniated disc, it might stop hurting, but it rarely goes away. Your spine is forever distorted. More US health care dollars are spent treating back and neck pain than almost any other condition. We spend about 86 billion a year. And its not just the money. Daily pain is, of course, unpleasant.

    The incidence of back pain is skyrocketing. From what I have seen there are a few reasons. One is people have bad posture. The second is we are walking on way more concrete.
    We didn't evolve to walk on concrete daily.

    When my back was out my wife would joke I had the crappiest super power ever. When I walked I could tell how much a surface gave by seeing how much it felt like I was getting tasered with each step.

    Wood and carpet were not to bad. Dirt felt ok. Grass gave it an extra cushion. Asphalt was not ideal but tolerable. Concrete was a nightmare. It doesn't give at all. Eventually I started avoided concrete like the plague. The reason it hurts is when you step on a surface that doesn't give it sends a shock all the way up your spine all the way up to your neck. Crazy but true according to the md's I talked to.

    We didn't evolve to walk on concrete for long periods of time. We evolved to walk on earth.

    As a country the more concrete sidewalks we lay down over the next 20 years the more people will experience back and neck pain. Obviously people are built differently. Some people could walk on concrete 5 hours a day and not experience problems. Other people will not be so lucky.

    Instead of concrete sidewalks I would allow as an option for builders to have natural trails, gravel paths, dirt paths, asphalt. Anything as an alternative to concrete.

  15. #40
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    Too Expensive, Really?

    I usually find that the same people that are complaining about how expensive sidewalks are are the same people that turn right around and complain that another car lane needs to be added. Those are free, right?

  16. #41
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    Sidewalks and Presumptions: one size does not fit all

    The underlying assumption in this thread, with the exception of Huck's comment, seems to be that sidewalks are good, opposing them is bad, and probably reflects a stubborn self-interest on the part of people who are largely ignorant. Wow. Urban planners in particular must accept that one size does not fit all--in my experience, most do, but they are constrained by both national codes and the performance metrics of their respective organizations which are good at counting compliance enforcement and bad at innovation.

    Sidewalks are important in many, many contexts. This is especially true where the street is nothing more or less than a transportation corridor moving vehicles from A to B. Since the 1950s and the drive (pun intended) toward ever increasing consumption of cars and their economic relationships, streets have steadily transformed from people-connectors to highways--even within neighbourhoods which were often designed specifically to force vehicle use.

    In specific contexts, sidewalks are not suitable. They permit drivers to assume ownership of space and increase speeds (necessitating a host of control mechanisms). They require maintenance that is inadequately funded, exacerbating risk of trips and falls that are already cited by emergency room doctors as the cause of annual emergency health interventions. In smaller lot plans, they form a virtual roller-coaster of ups and downs over driveway aprons and corners such that caregivers are seen to push wheelchairs and strollers in the street to avoid bumpy rides. Elders using walkers and scooters do the same unless the street has a high traffic volume.

    In a residential neighbourhood in Victoria, BC, we are working to preserve the unique character of a sidewalk-free set of contiguous streets so as to create a shared space promenade in the anticipation of increasing urban densification. It is styled on traffic engineers Joost Vahl and Hans Monderman's woonerf concept in which some 2 million Dutch live in shared space streets. Our particular initiative differs from the initial concept in that those using the streets as pedestrians are not residents with inadequate yard space, but neighbours who wish to share street space as connective tissue in community wellness with those from other neighbourhoods who come to Oaklands Rise to enjoy its ambiance. Regular street users have been identified from at least five surrounding neighbourhoods and include child care groups, seniors on daily constitutionals, dog-walkers (yes, they pick up) and gardeners who are enthused by the cohesive aspect of the area as seen in collaborative planting of pollinator attracting plans on boulevards.

    Many of the (perhaps contextually valid) assumptions seen in this thread are not true for the context in the Oaklands Rise neighbourhood of VIctoria. Unfortunately, it is proving very difficult to get our local staff to look beyond the kind of arguments seen in this thread.

    We would value input as to how to achieve our goals in the face of strongly held, erroneous assumptions. Ideas?

  17. #42
    Cyburbian Doohickie's avatar
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    My dog was hit by a car while on a 4-foot leash that I was holding the other end of (and was therefore less that 4 feet from getting hit myself) because I didn't have a sidewalk availble. Guess what? Sidewalks or not, cars assume that all the space between the curbs are for their exclusive use.

  18. #43
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    It's a hard argument to overcome. You have to make pedestrians feel safe in the street and get drivers to understand that pedestrians exist in the street (and bikes and whatever else). I would say you almost need to kill the street to car traffic. Basically just allowing local residents to get to their driveways. One of my favorite examples is the King's Road neighborhood in St. Louis. They have a small entry (barely bigger than a car) with a great entry monument that opens into two small lanes separated by a grass park area. It essentially isolates the street from the city. I'd recommend things like landscape bump outs that deter traffic naturally. Maybe creating parking islands like Seaside, FL. Just places on the side that can park a couple cars and the res is landscaped. It narrows the street. Make clear indications where the primary lane of travel is right down the middle. Drivers are usually smart enough to move over to allow cars to pass each other. You could use pavement or concrete in the center and cobblestone on the sides or just different colored pavement.

    Good luck
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  19. #44
    Cyburbian Doberman's avatar
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    I've heard very legitimate concerns from residents in high crime communities against pedestrian the kind of access that sidewalks give.

  20. #45
    Quote Originally posted by Doberman View post
    I've heard very legitimate concerns from residents in high crime communities against pedestrian the kind of access that sidewalks give.
    I've heard that argument before. It's the same argument against rails-to-trails. There is also discussion of who builds and maintains them. The flip side to it is what my jurisdiction is going through. We are a suburbanizing county. Right now, we are playing catch up with providing the amenities that goes along with that, including a multi use path. These sort of things are what the suburbs want.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  21. #46
    Cyburbian Doohickie's avatar
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    If you're putting in a MUP, you probably need to consider how law enforcement will patrol them. Things to consider are trail access points (i.e., in the event of a major incident you need to bring cops in from the street grid), regular patrols, modes of transit for police, etc. Our police patrol on horseback and on bicycles, plus they have some motorcycles (since there aren't supposed to be motorized vehicles on the MUP, they aren't regularly used). The river MUP is actually quite safe, even in remote areas. Also, there are regularly spaced 911 markers to give emergency services definite locations to respond to.

    We might have an incidence of violent crime every couple of years or so, usually with little or no injury to the victim, and the perps are typically identified and arrested pretty quickly, which keeps crime to a series of isolated incidents. A friend of mine was attacked on the trail last year. She stopped during a bike ride to take a picture. A guy came up behind and tried to grab her. She bit down HARD on his arm and held on; she said she hit bone! Eventually he got away but was captured within an hour or two. He had pretty clear identifying marks. But that's the exception that proves the rule. The trails are pretty frequently used and the police take any crime on the trails seriously. The trails go along the river through the whole city, including the, umm, less-than-desirable east side, and even in those areas there's very little crime.

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