Sidewalks are for everyone, now and later

The residents of Glenwood Street have drawn a line in the sand, gravel, rocks and cement.
And all the other ingredients that make up concrete.
Some don’t want the green space in front of their homes reduced by sidewalks — the durable, manmade paths used for pedestrian travel that exist throughout the suburban neighborhoods of developed nations.
How dare anyone think about constructing more sidewalks?
In a News Tribune story Monday, 89-year-old Morley Heights resident Irene Thomson said she sees no need for a sidewalk in front of her home.
“I hope we, the people, have some say here,” she said.
You do have a say, but that’s where it should end. Let the Duluth City Council stick with its “complete streets policy.”
I don’t like that the guy on my block whose yellow Lab constantly defecated in my yard got another Lab puppy when the old one presumably died. But that doesn’t mean I should be able to prevent him from owning a dog. (I wish it did, though.)
My house is on a corner lot in Lakeside with sidewalks for twice the snow-shoveling fun. My house isn’t far from a three-block stretch of street with no sidewalks. There are no intersecting roads on that segment so it’s not terribly dangerous, but I wouldn’t mind having a car-free path for when I walk my pug.
“They’re trying to shove something down our throats that we don’t want,” Laura Johnson said about the Glenwood Street sidewalks in Monday’s story.
You might not want them, Laura, but the sidewalks slated to be installed will serve a purpose long after you and Glenwood’s current residents leave the neighborhood.
To solely include the feedback of current residents when making long-term streetscape decisions would be shortsighted. A sidewalk isn’t just for the people who live next to it; it’s for everyone. It provides a safe walk home and serves as a canvas for kids to display chalk art.
Let this be where the sidewalk debate ends.

Jimmy Bellamy is the multimedia editor at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. Contact him at (218) 723-5390 or jbellamy@duluthnews.com. This column originally appeared here.

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