Last week, after a delightful night in downtown La Mesa at Fourpenny House Irish Pub with a few friends, I took a walk with one of my gals through the quaint surrounding neighborhoods. Nothing like an evening walk after good food.
The sky was newly darkened by the exodus of the day’s last rays of pink and purple light and every home we passed was a grand silhouette of shadow against shadow. Occasionally, a house light would break through the black facade and, thankfully, street lamps lit most of our way through the old streets.
But our lovely stroll was cut short when we came to the end of the sidewalk.
With the corner of the street another several hundred yards ahead of us, we were mystified as to why someone would build half a sidewalk, stopping far short of the final destination: a connecting sidewalk.
Had this been an isolated incidence, I might have brushed it off with a laugh. But it wasn’t. On nearly every street, we found ourselves crossing the road in the dark to reach a sidewalk that would bring us all the way to the next turn. In some cases, we simply had to make do with the shoulder of the road.
Is this a commonly found occurence in East County? Am I not walking enough that I have only just discovered the half-sidewalks that exist in our community?
Pardon the outburst, but as someone not easily riled, this took me by surprise.
Who in their right mind only builds half a sidewalk? Have they ever used a sidewalk personally, one wonders? What is the purpose of lurring pedestrians down a concrete path, several hundred yards in either direction from the nearest crosswalk or walkable intersection, only to have the pathway melt into a shoddily kempt road shoulder? Isn’t the point of a sidewalk to safely transport pedestrians from one location to another without mixing them in with auto traffic (which becomes dangerous for both pedestrian and driver)? If so, why make a sidewalk that does not reach a connecting point of transport?
At some point, you would think someone would have just said, “Save the concrete – it’s better to not have a sidewalk here at all than to have one that ends in the middle of nowhere.”
Maybe this is just the side effect of living in a predominantly auto-centric city. People don’t walk. New York, Los Angeles, certainly European cities like London and Prague – they all have sidewalks on every street. At least on one side of the road – usually both – there is a place for pedestrians.
It makes sense that San Diego would sport fewer sidewalks under the assumption that residents are getting directly into their cars and driving to a chosen location, only to get out near enough the destination that the only walking happens in a driveway or a parking lot.
There are two immediate problems with this thinking. Firstly, it treats as invisible or invaluable the members of our society who do not have cars and use their own two feet to accomplish much of their transport. They need sidewalks.
Secondly, though one might excuse sidewalks in high trafficked areas of town where pedestrianism is not as frequent, a neighborhood without sidewalks seems like a neighborhood where neighbors don’t walk down the street to say ‘hello’ to one another.
But I am sure there are answers somewhere. Surely someone can explain to me the mystery of the missing sidewalks (even if it is simply that East County residents don’t feel the need to use them, which is acceptable – this is a free country, after all). So please, write in! Don’t make me beg (I totally will – I love hearing from our readers)!
Do you know your neighbors? Do you walk to their houses on the shoulder of the street or is their a sidewalk? Do you need a sidewalk for your daily commute? Do you use a wheelchair or a cane that makes traversing uneven surfaces difficult? Do you have small children with you when you walk places? Do you prefer the adventure of never knowing when you’ll run out of pavement?
Am I the only one going crazy over the lack of sidewalks out here? This editor would like to know.