Sidewalks Are Good

While rose-colored nostalgia is often useless, one could use it to recall some of the infrastructure that allowed for neighborhood safety: sidewalks. These are low-tech acknowledgments that everyone traversing a community is not necessarily driving a car. Of course, some easements may be required and bonds are notoriously controversial, but in the end, the built environment will have to accept that walking was and is responsible for the desirability of multiple neighborhoods.

Sidewalks can be used in large cities to expand the marketplace, and in small cities to reduce the amount of congestion in the quaint business districts. In Texas, cities like Georgetown, Marble Falls, and Fredericksburg may not be competing for large companies because they invested enough in park-once planning. Town squares actually compete against each other to acquire weekend visitors, and many have attracted steady streams of small businesses. In large cities, there are streets known for sidewalk markets which attract international visitors, and those sidewalks make it easier to move from business to business for errands. Clearly, well-maintained sidewalks are a good business model.

Also, sidewalks allow transit riders to travel safely regardless of the size of the street. While transit use has been increasing, more attention has been drawn to incomplete sidewalks. In disadvantaged communities, sidewalks stop in the middle of blocks forcing people onto roads which may have faster traffic. Another reason that sidewalks are important is that they increase transit stop visibility to bus drivers, especially in poorly-lit neighborhoods with regular riders. People have been socialized away from walking for many years, but cities still have time to reorient citizens into using and supporting sidewalks for future generations.


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