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

stroskey

Cyburbian
Messages
1,212
Points
17
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."
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,446
Points
26
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."

Umm no. Complete opposite, everyone wants sidewalks. Period. California has passed a complete streets act. So with that said, more urban areas that lack sidewalks are clamoring to get them.
 

stroskey

Cyburbian
Messages
1,212
Points
17
This is not for new construction - this is for old buildings and lots being rehabbed or redeveloped. Who pays for all these new sidewalks in CA?
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
27
We encounter this resistance too. Sidewalks in the county are not common. We usually only require them if there is connectivity with an adjacent subdivision or a trail system. Developers consider sidewalks to be an unneeded expense. They say that Inside the subdivision those people who do walk will walk in the street anyway.

In town, we have a mishmash of sidewalks and no sidewalks. As you would expect, the older parts of towns have sidewalks separated from the street by mature trees. People squawk mostly about being expected to maintain the space between the sidewalk and the street. In the parts of town that are not so old but not so new (like where I live), you have some sidewalks but mostly not. There is a sidewalk across the street from my house that runs for two blocks. People mostly walk in the street. The new new parts of town generally have sidewalks.

I wouldn't mind a sidewalk on my property, especially if the city would foot the bill for tearing out those damn juniper hedges the previous owner planted and I hate. Those hedges have two of my son's baseballs and passing cars seem to enjoy tossing their empty soda and beer cans in them. Though I did find a perfectly good skateboard in them once and I gave it to my son (saving me some money).
 

Hink

OH....IO
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
14,751
Points
39
Sidewalks, bike paths, pretty much anything that costs money. Around here even our citizens like to get up in arms about who the sidewalks bring into their neighborhoods....:r:

We have been much more proactive in pushing sidewalks in the last 2-3 years. It is having an effect. I find that sidewalks are like the band Journey. Everyone says they don't like them, but once they are around them more... they start to understand the value. Then people have to have them and don't remember life without them. ;)
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,446
Points
26
This is not for new construction - this is for old buildings and lots being rehabbed or redeveloped. Who pays for all these new sidewalks in CA?
We have utilized CDBG funds to pay for new sidewalks under the whole "ADA" compitability thing for existing neighborhoods. We also have a City wide Transportation Impact Fee that is coupled with our Capital Improvement Plan to fund sidewalk construction in various parts of the City.
 

docwatson

Cyburbian
Messages
215
Points
9
I am wondering how big the lots are in these areas without sidewalks? And are they truly semi-rural areas where people do walk in the street (or not at all)?

I do know in some really small towns in Colorado, people really do walk in the street and would see installing sidewalks as a burden (plus they would become buckled over time with freezing and thawing and poor maintenance). Made me wonder if an alternative standard (such as a sufficient shoulder, perhaps with narrowing lanes) might be more palatable.

When I worked in a larger city (pop 60,000) where most developments were on "smaller" lots (perhaps 6,500 sq. ft), most people did indeed seem to want and expect sidewalks, especially families with kids. People even wanted bicycle trails. We thankfully did not have the culture of asking "who will be walking on these sidewalks"! This is not to say standards were not needed. I did observe that where the developer chose 4' attached sidewalks with roll-over curbs, people still walked in the street to be able to walk side by side. We only required detached walks on collector streets and larger.

On the other hand, if these developments are in the neither urban nor rural category (I'm thinking of 50s and 60s ranch houses on full 1/4 to 1/2 acre lots), it seems a tough call - I can imagine an aversion to sidewalks and if traffic is low, people really do use the street. On the other hand, there may be destinations that they need to connect to. Perhaps its a context-sensitive question?

For retrofit, I have seen some cities use annual levies, perhaps with the city footing half the bill and the property owners being able to pay the cost of a sidewalk over 5 or 10 years ...
 

ColoGI

Cyburbian
Messages
2,568
Points
17
I find that sidewalks are like the band Journey. Everyone says they don't like them, but once they are around them more... they start to understand the value. Then people have to have them and don't remember life without them. ;)
Don't stop believin'!

Nonetheless, one place I worked hated them as it was rural and city folk want sidewalks. Another place required them and it was expected to have a sidewalk and no one was angry. So it depends.
 

Gotta Speakup

Cyburbian
Messages
1,455
Points
20
Pardon me for getting academic here....

This is another example how shared cultural values shape the built environment. Some places strongly resist sidewalks, others consider them as essential. It's all related to how people mentally decide what their ideal environment includes or should not include.

There are lots of other examples such as who rides public transit, whether children should live in apartments, etc.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,559
Points
55
In the community where I work, sidewalks are very rare. There's no opposition to them; in fact, it's quite the opposite. The problem is street standards that were written for a rural community in mind; not the suburb that the community has evolved into. Most new streets, even in denser residential areas, have rural profiles; open swales, no curbs, no sidewalks.

There's a lot of support for increased pedestrian connectivity, but the idea of sidewalks never crosses anyone's mind when I talk about it. Instead, they picture a network of windy nature trails, like what might be found in a 1970s-era planned community. I'm struggling to get them to connect the idea of pedestrian connectivity and complete streets with sidewalks that line all streets, rather than just a trail system that would be far more difficult to build and provide less functionality. It's almost as if the entire concept of sidewalks has been forgotten, or that sidewalks are something on the very cutting edge of street design. Maybe the desire for trails is related to the "shared cultural values" Gotta mentions.

Model stormwater design guidelines from New York State actually discourage sidewalks on both sides of residential streets, because they add impervious surface area that could increase the rate and amount of runoff.

Clarence, New York, a suburb of Buffalo, actually bans sidewalks in residential areas, because they detract from "rural character". Here's an example of some Clarence-style rural character.

For some reason, in looking at suburban areas throughout North America on Google Streetview, sidewalks are rarer in Canada than the United States; not something I'd expect to see.
 

rcgplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,730
Points
18
My fair city will be requiring sidewalks for all new development under our ULDC. We are also requiring variance credits for variances over a certain amount, one of the credits is constructing a sidewalk. We have been pretty aggressive using CDBG funds to build sidewalks especially in our more economically distressed parts of town. This being Texas and it being 90 plus degrees 6 months of the year we have gotten some backlash, i.e. nobody walks, so why waste $ building sidewalks. It will be interesting to see how much backlash we get once our ULDC goes into effect next year.
 

ColoGI

Cyburbian
Messages
2,568
Points
17
Most new streets, even in denser residential areas, have rural profiles; open swales, no curbs, no sidewalks.

There's a lot of support for increased pedestrian connectivity, ...

Model stormwater design guidelines from New York State actually discourage sidewalks on both sides of residential streets, because they add impervious surface area that could increase the rate and amount of runoff.

...For some reason, in looking at suburban areas throughout North America on Google Streetview, sidewalks are rarer in Canada than the United States; not something I'd expect to see.
There is a lot to be said for swales for stormwater. If only we could make the streets safer for peds, we'd have a connected non-motorized transportation network. If only...
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,241
Points
26
Umm no. Complete opposite, everyone wants sidewalks. Period. California has passed a complete streets act. So with that said, more urban areas that lack sidewalks are clamoring to get them.
In Huntington Beach CA you see a patchwork of sidewalks. In many older areas where there has been no redevelopment there are no sidewalks. These areas are typically very close to the CBD, while in newer development and in the CBD there are sidewalks. You would think the opposite would be true.

In my region we have a suburb that is geographically isolated because it is on an island. This island has been very progressive when it comes to bike paths as a way of getting folks off of the main roadways. However, when it received a Safe Routes to Schools grant, a very vocal minority was able to screw things up being that "only poor kids walk to school!", and "we dont want to attract 'those' people!" I guess geographically isolated areas attract people that want to be isolated but not out in the sticks!

We too have a complete streets mandate. It is currently being shaped and it is an interesting process.
 

hilldweller

Cyburbian
Messages
3,865
Points
23
Sidewalks can be expensive to build in areas with curb and gutter drainage systemts. In a lot of communities developers are expected to provide sidewalks in connection with their development projects, which they often do not regard as worthwhile ("nobody is going to walk here"). It's another expense they didn't account for in their pro-formas, viewed as another exaction from the town/city on top of open space requirements, impact fees/mitigation, design regulations, etc., which all cut into their bottom line. These are the usual reasons why developers squak about sidewalks, necessity and cost.
 

landplanninglaw

Cyburbian
Messages
33
Points
2
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."
Good question. Some people in some neighborhoods do walk in the street, and if the primary reason for a sidewalk is to separate from traffic they may be unnecessary in these areas (because presumably people wouldn't walk in the street if they couldn't). Sometimes developers request waivers because the sidewalk would literally go to nowhere as adjoining properties don't have sidewalks. there should be a waiver standard for sidewalks. Developers don't like them because they add nothing to their ROI and also add to the type of stormwater treatment they have to do, while simultaneously cutting into the space which they have to do it in. Generally, sidewalks are a context-sensitive requirement, and the planning board will usually want them unless it makes no sense. But the answer to your question directly is: cost.
 

WSU MUP Student

Cyburbian
Messages
9,608
Points
31
I don't work for a city/town or for a developer so my experience is purely as a resident... One extremely affluent local community, Bloomfield Hills (MI), has no sidewalks, except for one small strip along the side of a large private school connecting some of its buildings and a church, and has opted out of the regional bus system. The city is only 5 square miles and is surrounded by other affluent communities (Birmingham and Bloomfield Township). In the past, there was always an aversion to requiring sidewalks in the small commercial area or along the main strip through the community, Woodward Avenue, and resistance to joining the transit system because it would bring those people to town. :r:

Neighboring Birmingham has sidewalks throughout and Bloomfield Township, which is largely residential, passed a plan a few years back to slowly begin adding sidewalks and trails to the vast majority of its streets. Some of the first new sidewalks and trails that the Township installed were along its side of the roads that make up its boundary with Bloomfield Hills. The sidewalks seem to be very well used throughout the year. In the past few years, Bloomfield Hills has seemed to put in a bit more effort at attracting commercial and retail development in its little downtown area. They have been able to attract a few nice developments as well as some redevelopments of existing properties but still do not require sidewalks. Pouring over planning commission and city council minutes for this year and last year however, I notice that the issue of sidewalks seems to be being brought up much more frequently and in a very favorable manner. It seems that residents, businesses, and the local politicians are all becoming more interested in bringing sidewalks to the main street through town and the main cross street in the downtown area. Residents are now even expressing a desire to add sidewalks to the residential areas which is interesting since most of the houses are large lot development on parcels greater than an acre.

I think a number of factors has brought about this change in opinion in a traditionally car-centric community. First, the residents in Bloomfield Hills are generally older than those in most communities and the generational turnover of younger families moving in with children has begun (in earnest compared to other areas of course) and these younger residents want to be outside and walk places, even if it is just to get fresh air. Second, the city sees the activity in the vibrant downtown in neighboring Birmingham and wants to attract more commercial and retail activity of their own and realizes that they may need to offer similar amenities (i.e. sidewalks) in order to compete. Third, maybe they have seen that there was no massive uptick in crime in neighboring Bloomfield Township when they began installing their sidewalks? I don't expect sidewalks to come to Bloomfield Hills this year, but from what I have seen, it looks like they are going to take a serious look at the costs and available funding sources for adding sidewalks through the city along Woodward Avenue and maybe it will happen sooner rather than later.

Long story short... opinions change and I think a lot of it is generational.
 

Howl

Cyburbian
Messages
223
Points
9
The context is very important. In some locations sidewalks are warranted and desirable, and in others they are not. I grew up in a village where there were no sidewalks on most of the local streets. Everyone drove like they expected to find people walking (and kids playing) on the streets. About 20 years ago they put a new sewer and water pipes so they took the opportunity to rebuild all the local streets to “modern” standards, including cutting down most of the 50 to 100 year old street trees that gave the village its character to fit the sidewalks in. The result is people now drive much faster on the local streets and kids can no longer play there safely. This didn’t occur to me as being a problem until I started to research “Shared Streets” a few years ago and realized that I had grown up on a shared street. Everything comes full circle.
 

Huck

Cyburbian
Messages
104
Points
6
The context is very important. In some locations sidewalks are warranted and desirable, and in others they are not. I grew up in a village where there were no sidewalks on most of the local streets. Everyone drove like they expected to find people walking (and kids playing) on the streets. About 20 years ago they put a new sewer and water pipes so they took the opportunity to rebuild all the local streets to “modern” standards, including cutting down most of the 50 to 100 year old street trees that gave the village its character to fit the sidewalks in. The result is people now drive much faster on the local streets and kids can no longer play there safely. This didn’t occur to me as being a problem until I started to research “Shared Streets” a few years ago and realized that I had grown up on a shared street. Everything comes full circle.
A lot of what I've read in favor of shared streets/shared spaces doesn't take into account one major concept: mixing pedestrians with vehicles is inherrently dangerous.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
38
Two issues I've seen here in FL:

If it's a new development, the developer doesn't want to foot the bill (and in some cases, only has to build sidewalks on one side of the road it it's "affordable housing".)

Then the much less likely case, where the sidewalks are on the homeowner's property and have to be built at the time of home construction: "Get the hell off my property!". Those are the ugly cases. People shoot.
 

Howl

Cyburbian
Messages
223
Points
9
A lot of what I've read in favor of shared streets/shared spaces doesn't take into account one major concept: mixing pedestrians with vehicles is inherrently dangerous.
Not if the cars are going slow enough. Almost every mall and plaza parking lot in the world is a shared space. Statistical evidence from Europe shows that pedestrians are safer in shared spaces than they are on separated sidewalks in many locations because traffic is moving at a much slower speed.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Teaching-resources/Newsthink/Discussion-store/Shared-spaces
 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
Messages
215
Points
9
Just to pile on, it really does depend on the neighborhood. In the Baltimore area, most blocks built before 1950, in suburbs and all but the smallest towns (especially main/commercial streets) as well as the City, have sidewalks on at least one side of the road, while later developments run the gamut. In Md I haven't actually heard about any big dustups over adding sidewalks, for either cost reasons or bigotry, but in Quarryville, PA (fairly compact, older small town) the borough (that's what PA calls actual small/medium towns, to distinguish from rural townships) has spent the last few years steadily adding sidewalks to streets that didn't have them, with a goal of having them on all streets, to big fuss. IIRC, the project was catalyzed by an ADA complaint from somebody, on top of intermittant resident requests to add sidewalks, but many residents balk at the costs being charged to the property owners. I think the charges are added to the property tax bill (the Lancaster County newspapers, the Intelligencer-New Era and Sunday News should still have articles in their 2011 archives) and property owners aren't happy paying for something many of them didn't ask for, and being expected to maintain them. The borough responded that the only alternative was to raise everyone's taxes to cover construction and maintenance costs--six of one, half a dozen of the other.
 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
Messages
215
Points
9
In most MD neighborhoods I've been in that have sidewalks on some streets but not all, the sidewalks are usually on main/commercial streets, arterials, and larger residential streets where traffic is already heavier and/or faster to begin with, where shared space never existed or ceased to be safe/feasible decades ago, and pedestrians really are safer on the sidewalk than in the street. Shared space mostly occurs on side streets and in very small-town or rural areas where traffic is light and slow. (Or used to be light and slow).
 

imaplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
6,673
Points
27
I will share the sentiment that it depends on the neighborhood. I've worked in some jurisdictions that were quite walkable and had a cohesive community. In general those property owners and builders have been fine with putting in sidewalks. In areas where nobody walks anywhere, people are upset at the percieved taking of their property and the idea that someone might walk by their house.
 

developmentguru

Cyburbian
Messages
62
Points
4
I just came across this post, but reassure you that you're not alone. In my area, during my tenure, we have made three concerted runs at an ordinance to require sidewalks for all new construction, and the local building community has lobbied the elected officials every time, soundly beating the initiative. Same with infill. Right now, street width determines if you need a sidewalk - solution? Build ridiculously-wide streets! Actual statements along the lines of the following have been made:
  • Since the popularization of refrigerated air, people don't walk outdoors;
  • Sidewalks increase crime by bringing delinquents to and through your yard, tempting them;
  • People walk with strollers and bicycle in the street all the time - it works just fine;
  • If you don't like it, drive;
  • This will kill development, driving out the developers who have lived here their whole lives, and will dissuade others from coming in;
  • If I have to mow the grass (in the portion of their yard which is in public right-of-way), then I should get to prevent others from crossing it;
  • My home insurance rates will skyrocket;
  • It's too hot, nobody will use them;
  • In response to desire trails - they should just take the bus.
It's sad and unfortunate, and incredibly frustrating! I have read and heard about suits brought in areas because they did not provide adequate ADA accessibility, but hate that this approach might be the only way to get things done. One thing we did was to actually run the numbers - since the claims were made that these sidewalks in residential areas would make the prices of homes skyrocket - and our Engineering group was able to blow their claims out of the water by showing just how affordable they could be. But...still a no-go. Good luck to all encountering this issue!
 

btrage

Cyburbian
Messages
6,423
Points
26
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.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,241
Points
26
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.
 

btrage

Cyburbian
Messages
6,423
Points
26
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.
 
Messages
1
Points
0
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.
 
M

mejiaufv

Guest
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.
 

Masswich

Cyburbian
Messages
1,303
Points
23
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.
 
Messages
2,228
Points
18
. . . 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/infrastructure/sidewalk-faq.shtml
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
Messages
900
Points
17
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/infrastructure/sidewalk-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.
 
Messages
2,228
Points
18
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.:)
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
Messages
900
Points
17
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.
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
29
Hmmm

The threat of running over animals, adults and small children is a great reason to slow the hell down. :screw::macys::brofist:
 

Jazzman

Cyburbian
Messages
705
Points
16
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.
 

Doberman

Cyburbian
Messages
180
Points
7
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.
 

nightlight

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
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.
 

wanderdoug

Member
Messages
1
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0
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?
 

JJvoyageur

Member
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4
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0
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?
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
1,669
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25
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.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,654
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38
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
 

Doberman

Cyburbian
Messages
180
Points
7
I've heard very legitimate concerns from residents in high crime communities against pedestrian the kind of access that sidewalks give.
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
10,497
Points
33
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.
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
1,669
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25
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.
 

JJvoyageur

Member
Messages
4
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0
Howl - any chance you have the content you linked? The link isn't working for me but is directly useful - thx with all digits crossed ;-)

Ours is a neighbourhood in which people walk. In the street. Constantly.

Cars are "guests" and typically other neighbours--our streets are not transportation corridors, but are 2-3 blocks from connectors and arterials. They are places for community--dog-walking is huge--as is coming upon others to chat with, share plants, news, etc. Safety is perceived to be an issue mostly on behalf of others "I worry that children and seniors are not safe" (because I buy the argument that if sidewalks make people safer on high speed roadways, they must make us safer here too).

Yet respondents in the survey indicate that they, personally, are "at ease in the street" and "attentive", the latter being key to safety in any context.

The City has measured (last week) and provided data confirming a median speed at 22.7 kph (mean 22.8 which is about 14 mph) with the highest speed at 43 kph, and a total volume of mid-week traffic as 352 vehicles. I believe the US likes a 85th percentile read: 28.1 kph.

Most of the discussion in this thread seems to reflect environments in which cars rule. The whole point of a woonerf (pr: VON-ehrf) is that they don't.

We want the City to designate our area as a woonerf to establish as bylaw fact what already is in reality, and, to permit certain actions such as placing street are and furnishings such that local cars must navigate, not race through. As our city densifies, we want to nip any cut-through traffic in the bud and make our area less psychologically attractive to drivers who have not immediate local reason to be in the neighbourhood and seek only to move through it.

The (well established) woonerf model is uniquely fit to context within a set of principles. It does not work where the street is primarily getting from A to Z. Agreed, one size does not fit all.

CHeck out https://is.gd/4QDQoH if interested (and please forgive the personal branding - volunteer, no budget effort ;-)

Not if the cars are going slow enough. Almost every mall and plaza parking lot in the world is a shared space. Statistical evidence from Europe shows that pedestrians are safer in shared spaces than they are on separated sidewalks in many locations because traffic is moving at a much slower speed.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Teaching-resources/Newsthink/Discussion-store/Shared-spaces
 

JJvoyageur

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
Thanks, and update

Thanks to those who responded to my earlier post.

Very interesting to see such strongly held views that suggest a universal solution, and gratifying to see that some understand the importance of context and that "one size fits all" may look good on paper, but rarely suits real people who must live in the built environment.

Our woonerf effort has now received three consecutive approvals from City Hall and we seem to have achieved progress with planners and engineers (after pointing out need for performance measures around staff engagement with the public). Our immediate goal is to preserve a unique part of the City as densification occurs and to establish in the official community plan a protected promenade running some 15 blocks with potential to create an even larger people-priority network encouraging placemaking, wayfinding and community wellness drawn from the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design model http://cpted.net instead of focusing on traffic management (which constitutes less than 25% of the community wellness attributes).

The topic area is extraordinary and has developed more by luck than plan into a low volume, low speed area ideal to create the disincentives for transportation and encouragement for community building.

We are cautiously hopeful that the Lighter Quicker Cheaper (LQC) approach will permit testing of a variety of interventions before any heavy engineering occurs. This community-led initiative is truly testing the capacity of the city to collaborate at level four of the International Association for Participation (IAP2) Spectrum. So, we've described it less as a pilot of the woonerf, and more of a pilot of City capacity. Examples of this approach include using potted plants and surface painting to give shape to chicanes where needed and use of neighbourhood propagation to fill out boulevards (verges) with pollinators and plants selected for low maintenance and compatibility to create a visual identity throughout the zone. Placement of the relatively low impact speed tables at entrances to the zone and at strategic ancillary locations exemplify engineered aspects with long term purpose.

Busy times!
JJ
 
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