Sidewalks gain in the Twin Cities suburbs, even as some residents protest

  • Article by: Mary Jane Smetanka , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 8, 2013 - 10:21 PM

More cities are recognizing that residents want walkable neighborhoods. But making way for sidewalks can be a complicated endeavor.

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shuckJun. 9, 13 3:12 AM

I'm more than willing to support sidewalks along busy roads and even residential feeders. However, there is massive overkill going on with low volume residential roads. We had a sidewalk imposed on our house a scant few years after it was built (beyond annoying after having specifically picked a lot that wasn't burdened by a sidewalk). It cuts the number of parking spaces in the driveway in half, costs about $500 worth of my time to clear each winter, and as a bonus in this particular city we'll have the benefit of future maintenance special assessments for this exclusive private amenity. (note: we're on a corner and this particular road serves 9 houses, had they decided to put a sidewalk in on the other (much busier road) which serves about 100 houses, I wouldn't have most of these complaints...)

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squeezemeJun. 9, 13 5:21 AM

There are sidewalks on both sides of the street in my neighborhood. Almost nobody uses them. I live a couple blocks from a lake. All the people out for exercise walk in the street (as do I) and living near a lake, people walk through the neighborhood every day. Sidewalks are a pain. They become unleveled by tree roots and are tripping hazards. They have to be shoveled, kept clear of debris and ice, and when a snowplow comes they are full of hard-packed snow and ice. Sidewalks suck. Nobody uses them in the suburbs! If these suburbs have had developments around for 50 years without sidewalks, why do they need them now when nobody will use them? It is a waste of taxpayer money and is a lot more work for homeowners.

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wa0tdaJun. 9, 13 7:44 AM

Smart sidewalks are the way to go. These are sidewalks where the auto traffic is such that there is a safety issue. Most streets where we live are plenty wide enough to walk safely, and they are cleared in the winter by the plow trucks in the normal course of business, whereas residential sidewalks would remain a patchwork of uncleared and semi-cleared icy obstacle courses. Where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic there should be sidewalks at both sides of busy crossings so that a pedestrian does not have to cross three times if they are on the "wrong" side of the cross street. This is usually in or at the edge of commercial districts.

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ddworakJun. 9, 13 7:46 AM

"Nobody uses sidewalks in the suburbs" That seems like a bit of a broad based generalization. Making communities more walkable and livable? Sounds like a good plan to me.

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strib1991Jun. 9, 13 8:01 AM

Why I read a story on sidewalks, I don't know. Slow news day in the big city?

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veronica75Jun. 9, 13 8:28 AM

I live in Golden Valley and am considering moving elsewhere because I'm tired of having to drive everywhere. I would consider staying if my area was more walkable. Seems like sidewalks would be a good start. It's a bit nerve wrecking when we go for walks with the kids and the dog because drivers don't expect entire families to be walking on the street.

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olneymacJun. 9, 13 9:12 AM

I live in a neighborhood that has no side walks, in the winter time during the evening when I walk my dog, I have lost count on how many times I have had to jump into a snowbank because of some idiot driver doing over the 30 mph speed limit. Too bad law enforcement is only out trolling for drunk drivers and big buck speeding ticket on the freeways. I don't want side walks, just safer drivers.

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IanscotJun. 9, 1311:43 AM

I attended a somewhat astonishing meeting at Golden Valley's City Hall a handful of years back, before sidewalks were added to my street. During the course of the meeting, a series of wildly disproportionate arguments were made against sidewalks. People stood up and claimed that they had moved into our neighborhood *specifically* due to the lack of sidewalks, for example. Really? They cited internet stats, pretty clearly written by people just like them, saying property value would decrease by 15% or more. A doctrinaire bicyclist -- I commute by bike myself -- made the argument that bikes on a sidewalk were menaces to children in strollers. (The stark plain obvious fact that it was almost impossible to teach a kid how to ride a bike without a sidewalk held no water with this same person.) The claims became more and more extreme as people vented. Passing pedestrians would be able to case our living rooms in a way that wasn't true with a lawn -- because, uhm, criminals won't bother if they don't have a nice path to walk on... or something! At one point my neighbors, who are generally pretty decent folks, sneered in livid indignation at a someone in a wheelchair having been hit by a car the previous year. We live somewhat near the Courage Center. The example was not hypothetical. Essentially people are territorial. They don't want to admit that they object to the right of way being used, though they know it's not legally theirs, and so they mask that reaction with bogus arguments. Those strained like a balloon with a weak place under the strain of all the hot air.... It was painful.

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hobie2Jun. 9, 1312:26 PM

Need vs want - your want is not my need... I don't "need" a sidewalk on my cul-de-sac/ blind end street because you "want" to walk on a sidewalk, nor do I "need" a sidewalk because houses on the state highway though the 'burb have one and "it's fair" that we all should pay for one... I picked and paid for a house on a blind residential street so there would be little traffic - AND so I could walk down my street and ride bikes on it without any but the dozen or so neighbors driving on it, neighbors who also prefer to walk on broad quiet streets...AND so casual outsider strollers didn't decide to walk by my house to check out the neighborhood and judge it, and have strangers wandering in and out of the neighborhood... Further, I WANT to walk on the street here, not walk on a sidewalk -- and I don't need some "one-size-fits-all" sidewalk salesman making me put one in "because good little clones should walk on sidewalks, not in the dangerous deserted residential blind street"... Oh - Why are you so bent on walking in my neighborhood, anyway? Walk in your own - get with your neighbors and put in sidewalks - in YOUR neighborhood.

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hobie2Jun. 9, 1312:34 PM

lansot - the issue of sidewalks in Golden Valley on Regent was about adding traffic to the street, not about sidewalks... Sidewalks were the subject because if GV didn't add sidewalks to Regent, they couldn't increase traffic designation of that street to allow for higher population density designation in the area, and most residents did not want that road opened up as an upgraded feeder in five years ... No sidewalks, no (actual higher speed) traffic, no change in allowed density, no change later to a feeder, no grant money...

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