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

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#41
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?
 
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#42
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.
 

dvdneal

Cyburbian
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#43
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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#44
I've heard very legitimate concerns from residents in high crime communities against pedestrian the kind of access that sidewalks give.
 
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#45
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.
 
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#46
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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#47
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
 
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#48
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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