Sidewalks are too often neglected by construction sites around the city. It’s easy to block a sidewalk and assume pedestrians—like water—will find a way around. Examples abound all over the city, but CART recently picked up on a sidewalk that has apparently been blocked on heavily traveled Bardstown Road and plans a rally Monday afternoon to draw attention to pedestrian rights.
The city has issued a permit shutting down walking on one side of Bardstown Road for almost a month. Crossing to the other side of the road is highly impractical—Bardstown is a busy 4 lane arterial. They can require the construction of a plywood tunnel, but they have not. They can annex the adjacent flex lane for people on foot, but they have not. There’s a whole library of tools they could employ, but they have not.
At some level the city knows these closures result in people taking risks. But even more insidious is the destruction of walking as a viable means of transportation. When you stand in front of this closed sidewalk, no number of walkability plans will convince you that walking is valued in Louisville. Perhaps that’s why “Maintain pedestrian-ways during construction and special events” was listed as a major short-term objective (4.3) of the Louisville Community Walkability Plan of 2008. Clearly we haven’t gotten that done.
It’s clear CART is tired of pedestrians taking a back seat, and rightfully so. The Sidewalk Defense Rally will be held today (Monday) from 4:00 to 6:00pm at 1401 Bardstown Road. (There may or may not be a large chicken involved?) CART says their main goal is to help pedestrians navigate the dangerous sidewalk during rush hour and advance pedestrian rights in a non-confrontational manner. You can RSVP on this Facebook page or just show up.
As CART points out, there are easy solutions to the construction sidewalk challenge. In New York, construction sites are so common and so many people need to get around that pedestrian safety is usually already taken care of. Depending on the size of the street, wooden barricades anchored by massive timbers will define the temporary sidewalk in the road. A busier street might require the full use of concrete Jersey barriers.
It’s such a simple problem to fix and a solution could be implemented very quickly. Hopefully no one will be injured or killed before action is taken. It’s important to remember that we have a long way to go in terms of walkability after being named the 7th Most Dangerous City for Pedestrians by the Dangerous by Design report.