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Posts Tagged ‘pedestrian’

I keep telling myself that it’s temporary housing.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing – I am living with a good friend I’ve known for years, I have my own space here and it’s inexpensive.  And while I’m technically still in Columbus, this section of town along Bethel Road is very sub-urban.

Everything is set back from the street far enough that there is almost an extra block walk involved.  One can say that there’s a Kroger on Bethel and Dierker, but the truth is that it’s almost another two blocks before one reaches the front door.  In the same strip center where Kroger resides are a multitude of other shops, but they’re further and further away from the designated intersection.

Strangely, the sidewalks don’t extend beyond Bethel Road.  There are literally several hundred housing units within walking distance of Kroger – but someone forgot to attach the sidewalks.

Housing density along Bethel Road is reasonable and perhaps even more dense than my former Merion Village neighborhood.  Townhouses, apartments and condos line the streets, but are typically shielded from the non-stop vehicular traffic of Bethel Road by earth berms, landscaping and enormous set-backs.

Obviously, this is a part of the “old” Columbus when automobile use was expected and pedestrians, bicyclists and those in wheelchairs were wise to live elsewhere.  Sadly, parking lots rein supreme though a road-side sign states we’re part of the Scioto Watershed.  That’s humorous given the excessive run off that takes place along Bethel Road.

The relative good news is that I’m not necessarily isolated in a sea of asphalt and concrete. Two COTA bus lines serve Bethel Road regularly.  The #95 whisks me to work in fifteen fewer minutes than did the #16 (which was becoming increasingly GHETTO because loud gangs of foul-mouthed, fighting youths pack it when leaving Easton on the weekends).

For my recreational use, COTA route 18 gets me back downtown and into the former ‘hood where I can enjoy a few drinks with the gang.  Never a worry about having too much to drink.  Only a worry to make sure I catch the last bus back.

Despite the car-forced zoning out here, there are a handful of pedestrians and bicyclists trying to make a go of it.  There are a few folks that wait with me for the bus to work.  Even more on the 18 as it passes through OSU.  The bank, movie theaters, restaurants and grocer are all within walking distance – and actually, I have more within walking distance here than I did when I was living in town, its just that walking isn’t the norm.  (Psst…maybe that’s because someone forgot to build the sidewalks).

And that’s a shame.  I would have expected that the City of Columbus would have remembered to install sidewalks along their streets.  I’m a pedestrian and this is my city too.

(Psst…hey you, yes you City of Columbus.  Traffic might decrease on Bethel Road if the sidewalks on Bethel Road actually connected to the adjoining neighborhoods).

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With an arriving winter storm coming on the heels of one just a week ago I’m finding it difficult to navigate large stretches of the city’s sidewalks because many residents and businesses have failed to clear their sidewalks.

This is of particular concern because I use public transit to get to and from work almost exclusively.  While I never mind a brisk winter walk, such walks become dangerous when snow-packed sidewalks turn to ice.  Even a light dusting of snow or blowing snow over ice covered sidewalks creates potential danger.  Walking in the street, although much easier, should not be advised.

This year I decided to look into why certain sidewalks remain snow packed and icy winter after winter.

My commute to work on public transit takes me to the Easton area where sidewalk clearing is apparently not addressed whatsoever.  Morse Crossing, Easton Way and Stelzer Road are the streets along which COTA’s service operates.  The majority of pedestrian traffic is along Morse Crossing to and from COTA routes 16 and 95.   (The New Albany Express #40 travels along Stelzer where the land is currently undeveloped).

I contacted Easton management to get some information since the strip malls, hotels and restaurant along Morse Crossing are demarcated by the brick pylons with the Easton “E” carved into them.

Easton management stated that each business along Morse Crossing is responsible for clearing the sidewalks adjacent to their property as stated in the City Code.  I stopped by a couple merchants to see what they knew about this.

At Pier One, which sits on the large corner lot at Morse Crossing and Gramercy Street, I was given contact information to the corporate offices in Ft. Worth.  When I called and explained the situation I was first asked if there had been an injury.  I said that there hadn’t been, but as a transit/pedestrian commuter, I was concerned about the conditions.  I was then asked to describe the sidewalks.

“They are the concrete walkways that parallel the two streets.”  The woman at corporate said she’d look into the situation but did not offer to follow up.

I also contacted the Marriott Hotels as one of their properties sits on a large corner lot at Morse Crossing and Easton Way.  Within a few hours I was contacted by the hotel manager.  The manager responded to my inquiry with these words:

“I appreciate your suggestion but would be remised if I did not note that our parking lot is not an access route to the bus stop behind the hotel.  The sidewalks on the exterior of our landscaping are city sidewalks and should be used for getting to the bus stop.  The walks on our property only lead to the building and to the back parking lot.  The only way to get to the bus stop through our lot is by trampling through our landscaping which is not acceptable.”

He seemed to miss the point all together – that being that pedestrians might be walking through this parking lot precisely because the sidewalks surrounding this Marriott are not shoveled, nor have they for the three winters that I’ve been commuting by public transit.

Today I stopped by Chase Bank, also on the corner of Morse Crossing and Gramercy Street.  I introduced myself to the branch manager and asked if he was making plans to have the sidewalks cleared around his facility.  I explained that as a commuter I was concerned with navigating the now ice-packed sidewalks and that with the increase in bus service and ridership, I was concerned for my fellow pedestrians.

The Chase branch manager told me that he was of the belief that their lease lines did not include the public sidewalks.  “The sidewalks,” he said, “belong to the City.”
“Yes,” I replied.  “Just like the sidewalks in front of my house, for which I have the same responsibility.”  He was gracious and understanding and said he’d contact Easton management to learn more.

It’s not just the sub-urban locations where sidewalks go un-shoveled, but it is the most prevalent location to find an unfriendly pedestrian environment   Along portions of High Street downtown one can find business which fail to properly clear their sidewalks, and this is Columbus’ central business district.

While Columbus City Code states that it is a requirement for property owners to clear the adjacent sidewalks of snow, I am not aware of how or if the City enforces this code.  Is $100 the only penalty for non-compliance?  How is that $100 collected?

If you know the answer, please let us know.

In the mean time, however, I enlisted the help of a local graphic designer to make a little something that we can all use in our neighborhoods and along our streets.  Available in both English and Spanish, this printable door hanger offers neighbors a gentle reminder that it is their responsibility to clear snow from their sidewalks.

Simply click, print, fold or cut, then cut along the noted lines so that it’ll fit over a doorknob and voila’! (It’s a full-sized .pdf of the image to the right).

As with most Columbus challenges, things here work best when we work with each other – and perhaps this door hanger will be a way to get the conversation started where you live and along the streets where you walk.

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