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Different Cities, but Same Story on Sidewalks

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2008, at 04:52PM
Sidewalk Closed Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Sidewalk closure on Grand Avenue, across from Disney Hall.

Just a few weeks ago we ran a piece chastizing the city for talking up a pedestrian friendly Downtown, while at the same time allowing sidewalks to be closed indefinitely.

It seems the problem isn't solely one facing Los Angeles. Last Friday Inga Saffron had an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer saying much the same thing:

Pity Philadelphia's walking majority. Its precious sidewalks are increasingly being taken in brazen landgrabs by the city's powerful construction industry, which erects flimsy chain-link fences to mark turf, sometimes for the sole purpose of allowing contractors to park for free. The pedestrian's daily passage is further challenged by smelly dumpsters, concrete barriers erected in the name of homeland security, and awkwardly designed wheelchair ramps.

Why not spread out? It costs nothing in Philadelphia for builders to occupy the public sidewalks. Stay as long as you'd like, too. No one in City Hall is keeping tabs of how long the fences are in place.

Twenty years ago, when Center City was deadsville, perhaps those lapses didn't matter as much. But since then, downtown has evolved into an archipelago of churning construction sites.

Were the city name removed the same exact words could be written about the way sidewalks are handled in Los Angeles. Saffron points to much different rules in New York City, where the pedestrian is afforded a higher level of respect.

Very much worth a read, and a good reminder that it's not just Downtown L.A. where pedestrians have been given the short end of the bargain.

Thanks to Bert Green for the story link.


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