Sidewalks

Awhile back, I talked about the interesting things one might see by looking down while walking. Here in Berkeley it has definitely proved to be interesting. I am very intrigued by the all of the old railroad tracks that still exist, particularly in West Berkeley. It has also been fun to see where old sidewalks have been replaced by the slightly spongy material that prevents trees from cracking through. I’ve kept an eye out for interesting engravings in the sidewalks as well. But I still have work to do with learning to pay attention to everything around me. This portion of sidewalk is located in front of a violin shop on University Avenue, a street I walk along often as it is an east-west connector. I am intrigued by the violin shop because there are no storefront windows (it is more like a regular house), and I often watch to see if people are coming in or out with violin in hand. The shop also has a nice violin cut-out in its wood entrance. But because I was always looking up at the store, I never noticed the violin engravings in the sidewalk!

Inevitably on busy streets, cyclists will sometimes ride on the sidewalks. Although I have encountered bicycles on the sidewalks while I am walking they have not caused any problems for me as a walker. Likely this is because I am generally comfortable riding and being around bicycles. I know that sometimes this causes problems, though; even on designated shared bicycle and pedestrian paths I have seen startled walkers when bicycles come by. Once in awhile I am a little bit surprised when someone is riding on the sidewalk when there is a nice wide bicycle lane on the street, but otherwise I haven’t spent too much time being bothered even if a cyclist shouldn’t really be riding there. One thing I have found in general as I have walked more and more is that I am less likely to be upset or angry about any incidents. Cars speeding through intersections as I try to cross used to bother me sometimes, but now I just wait and let them go and move on. But getting back to the bicycles, I was surprised to see some discussions recently about how many more bicycles ride on sidewalks now that many cities have incorporated wheelchair accessibility into the sidewalks in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Berkeley, in fact, was a pioneer for curb cuts, as well as for other rights and services for the disabled.) I had never thought about this before, and I am not sure whether any scientific studies have been done on the topic, but it makes sense that this would be the case. Certainly plenty of cyclists are comfortable riding up and down regular curbs, but it is much easier to do so without effort when there are curb cuts. Until thinking about this possibility, it had never occurred to be that there was anything negative that could be associated with curb cuts other than the usual city government arguments that surround priorities in funds used for public infrastructure. But I should have realized that there is always more than one side to everything. I don’t want to make it a priority to try come up with possible negative aspects of things that I see when I am walking, but this was a small wake-up call that there is much more to think about even when I believe I have come to a conclusion about an idea.

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2 Comments »

  1. ron bloomquist said

    And I tend to walk the bicycle lanes in Fort Bragg because they are smoother!

  2. Spike said

    Don’t get many cyclists around my way, just a few kids in the school holidays. The rest of the year you’re more likely to get tangled up in a dog lead.

    There’s a fight on between the yays and the nays about a cycle path along the Blackwall foreshore here. Lovely spot for a walk and no doubt it’d be a lovely cycle but there’d be a lot of flattened ducks as a result.

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