|Stay focused when using this sidewalk so you don't walk into this Ford Focus.|
This Ford Focus was parked on the sidewalk in front of the Oceanic gas station on University Boulevard at Sutherland Road. The car doesn't have any rear plates on it, which means it was likely undergoing repairs at "Joe's Auto Repair" which is the name of the gas station's garage. This car was probably placed here by one of the mechanics who works at the shop. As you can see in the photo, there is a utility pole and some shrubs to the right of the vehicle, preventing someone from walking by it on the safer side. This means that anyone walking past it must pass it on the left, in that narrow space between the vehicle and the right lane of University Boulevard. After taking this photo, I did just that, walking between the car and the road as a tractor trailer passed by in the right lane. I was close enough to reach out and touch the trailer of the passing truck.
|Right lane closed ahead... but the sidewalk is closed right here thanks to this obnoxiously placed sign.|
|In case you needed a reason to dislike Pepco.|
If you want to cross Colesville Road to avoid this obstacle, you have to walk at least 2,100 feet out of your way to do so legally and safely (although crossing a major road like this is never exactly "safe" whether you're in a crosswalk or not). The closest crosswalk north of this spot is at the Four Corners intersection, and to the south, it is at Colesville Road and Indian Spring Drive. The sidewalk on the Blair side of the road is excellent, but if you live in South Four Corners, you cannot access it without a lengthy detour. A crosswalk at Lanark Way could remedy this situation, as would utility pole relocation and sidewalk widening.
While not often viewed as such, sidewalks are an important piece of transportation infrastructure. Good sidewalks make getting around on foot a comfortable and experience. Obstructed sidewalks make it a stressful and inconvenient one. While most of our sidewalks are far from ideal, we should keep them as clear and pleasant as possible. This means trimming back shrubs, moving trashcans, not parking cars on them, and keeping them free of sign posts and poles. Sidewalks are like highways for people, and any obstructions should be reported and removed as quickly as possible. Sidewalks are not a random piece of concrete next to a road for storing private property and roadside infrastructure. They are transportation thoroughfares just like train tracks or travel lanes on a road, and we should treat them as such.