Are Sidewalks Really Necessary?

A lot of big, surprising revelations are happening in the livable streets movement around the country today. Here’s a sample of what Streetsblog Network members are reporting.

Sidewalks: Are they worth it? Photo: Transportation for America

Sidewalks: Are they worth it? Photo: Transportation for America

Miami Adopts Vision Zero Policy: Street safety advocates are elated after Miami officials suddenly announced the city would adopt a Vision Zero policy aimed a reducing the number of traffic fatalities to zero, Transit Miami reports. Similar policies have been adopted in New York City and Chicago, but nobody expected this notoriously hostile city for pedestrians to adopt such a progressive policy.

“My fellow commissioners and I have finally come to recognize that Miami is about two decades behind other so-called ‘world class cities’ when it comes to pedestrian and cycling infrastructure,” said Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “We have a public safety crisis unfolding on our streets and we need to make our streets safer for everyone; we need to design our streets for people, not cars.”

The policy will necessarily result in a total overhaul of the way Miami designs streets.

The Case Against Sidewalks: People for Bikes announced today the organization views sidewalks as a “terrible idea” and is lobbying for their abolishment nationwide. The place for pedestrians is in the road, along with cyclists and cars, writes Michael Andersen. Oregon physician Joseph Eisenberg sum up why dedicated walking paths are death traps:

When I walk, I always practice vehicular pedestrianism. I run in the middle of the street, wearing hi-viz clothing and a helmet with multiple flashing head and tail lights. I always merge into the left lane to turn left, and never run in the door zone. Sidewalks are separate and unequal, and they are death traps with the risk of right and left hooks! Pedestrians just need more education about the proper way to walk. Then they would be perfectly safe, and respected by motorists.

Wise words, indeed.

More Stroads for Minneapolis: Drawing inspiration from nearby Bloomington, the city of Minneapolis has proposed a bold vision for the future of its streets, reports Streets.mn today:

“Ever since the opening of the Hiawatha Line, we’ve watched scores of Minneapolitans drive to their nearest park-and-ride and take the train down to East Bloomington’s distinctive urban center, just to experience the sublime pedestrian experience of 8-lane, 40+ mph roadways,” mayor Betsy Hodges said in a press conference Tuesday. “It’s time to bring that kind of distinctiveness to Minneapolis.”

By the way, happy April 1st, everyone.