Who Deserves a Place To Walk? A Social Justice Issue.

The case against sidewalks

By Alissa Walker on February 7, 2018
Illustrations by Paige Vickers

This article is rich with links.  Peruse all of the reasons and ways that Anytown, USA needs to, and CAN step up to make walking safe everywhere.

“With the advent of the car, these public spaces were pushed to the margins, squeezed to the fringe of roadways widened and reinvented for speed. The invention of jaywalking shamed and blamed those who dared to leave the sliver of space demarcated for pedestrians.”

“Underserved neighborhoods, where there are higher rates of pedestrian deaths and injuries, face even greater equity challenges around sidewalks.

“Street safety is an environmental justice and racial justice issue,” says Emilia Crotty, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Los Angeles Walks. Across the country, she notes, African Americans and Latino Americans are 60 percent and 43 percent more likely to be killedwhile walking than white Americans. “The traffic deaths and injuries that are so common in these neighborhoods are a result of historical neglect and disinvestment in the streets, crosswalks, sidewalks, traffic signals, medians, and curb extensions that other communities have enjoyed for years.”

Yet clean, safe, unbroken sidewalks have become such a rarity in this country that designing an area where people can get around primarily by walking—the one mode of transportation that is available and accessible to everyone—is now seen as a harbinger of displacement. In 2016, an Urban Land Institute report noted that walkability had become so desirable that it was something “many households will not be able to afford.”

American society has so normalized our inferior sidewalk system that we don’t believe we deserve a place to walk.”

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