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A rant about sidewalks

June 29, 2020

You may have noticed people seem to be walking more these days. That’s one way to get exercise during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also a fundamental way to move around. We are often told by Sacramento County - particularly when they want to justify dumb land use decisions - that our community is pedestrian friendly. That’s true to the extent that the area is mostly flat as a pancake, the weather is mild (compared to, say, the drenching rains, ice and snow found elsewhere in the country), and there are shopping centers or convenience stores all over the place. But our sidewalks, in the few streets where they might exist, are narrow, not well-maintained, cluttered with utility poles and boxes, and often have rounded curbs that won’t deter speeding cars. Walking in our community is not enjoyable and is often unsafe. Check out the photos (click through them - Watt, Fair Oaks, Eastern, Cottage, Pope, Edison):

We always ask the elves here at our blog to try to be nice to the County. They found out some improvements are in the works: a set of projects to install curbs, gutters and sidewalks, some landscaped medians and pedestrian crossings, ADA ramps and better drainage is planned for some places along Edison, El Camino, Hurley and Marconi. The County Transportation staff will ask the Supervisors to OK the projects in December 2021 so they can be built during April-December 2022. While that seems far off, it’s good to know the need is getting some recognition.

A recent article in Bloomberg News indicated that Arden Arcade is not alone when it comes to bad sidewalks. The article says sidewalks have been neglected all over America. Public works staffs and elected officials have given pedestrian mobility low priority. Deficiencies have been found to hit underprivileged communities the hardest. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. A 2017 survey by the National Association of Realtors found millenials and older generations prefer walkable communities. That makes sense because when home buyers consider a house, they also consider the neighborhood and the community. Yet, federal funding drives most investment decisions about the infrastructure needed for mobility; pedestrian and bicycle amenities tend to get the ignored or given only token recognition. So, in a way, you can understand why Sacramento County has opted for improvements to our expensive roadways and invested in transit when federal dollars were available or as a way to attract votes for transportation taxes. Still, it’s pretty obvious that post-covid economic recovery strategies will consider a solid uptick in funding for transportation projects. It is also clear that inequalities in funding for underprivileged communities cannot continue to persist. And there is no reason to believe that current interests in walkability as a driver for property values and health benefits will abate

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