Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Sidewalks in Winston-Salem

Posted in "North Carolina", Local Government, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on March 21, 2013

I’m going to start with a quote from Climate Central, which I found by way of a link from an article in Scientific American.

On March 18, 2013,  Climate Central reported  Significant news is coming out of the Arctic these past few weeks – and none of it bodes well for the future of the Earth. In fact, for climate scientists and environmentalists, worst case scenarios are now playing out in real time.

And I’d like to consider our local City Council’s sidewalk policy in light of these environmental urgencies.

More than a week  ago, I wrote a letter to all of our Council members.  I have received no response from any.  I understand that our Council has a limited budget for sidewalks, and rather than considering the city as a whole, that money is divided equally among the eight wards. So each ward gets one eighth of the sidewalk budget, regardless of where the city’s needs are more urgent.  This leads to “The Sidewalk to Nowhere”  — a sidewalk through a neighborhood with cul-de-sacs and little traffic, as reported by Journal writer Scott Sexton.

Now consider North Point Boulevard, where we see a long stretch of businesses, office buildings, and several restaurants (Trido of Japan,  North Point Grill, El Triunfo, Asian Bistro, to name a few).  The people who work in these office buildings cannot easily walk or bike to a restaurant for lunch.  No sidewalks or bike lanes.  So unless they bring their lunch, virtually all the people who work in these offices pull their cars out on to North Point Blvd. to drive a quarter mile or so.

Here is the letter I sent on March 13 to Council Members Dan Besse, Vivian Burke, Denise Adams, Derwin Montgomery, Molly Leight, Robert C. Clark, Wanda Merschel, and James Taylor, and to Myra Stafford, Sidewalk  Project Specialist:

I have for some time been distressed with the lack of sidewalks in parts
of the city that need them. There are busy thoroughfares that run
through neighborhoods — thoroughfares like Polo Road, where a sidewalk
runs from Reynolda Road, past WFU, and then stops.  Extending that
sidewalk to Cherry Street would benefit a community where people have to
get in their cars to drive to a store because the remaining section of
Polo Road is not safe without a sidewalk.

Another example is North Point Blvd.  There are businesses, offices,
and restaurants, but people who work on North Point Blvd. have to get
their cars out to go to a nearby restaurant.  There is a short
sidewalk which runs a few hundred feet and then stops.  Extending this
sidewalk would be very helpful, would increase foot traffic and
bicycles, and reduce automobile traffic.  Please reconsider the
“sidewalk to nowhere” and move that sidewalk funding to a site where
it is badly needed.

Are we making sensible decisions with our allocations of city resources?   How are the decisions  made?   Might it be possible to consider a different method of allocation — a method that takes into consideration  the needs of the entire city?  Can we reconsider how our city resources are allocated?  Perhaps one  criterion for sidewalks should be that they have a positive impact on traffic?

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