Posts about Hawthorne
Streets in DC that lack sidewalks often coincide with high concentrations of seniors, who need sidewalks all the more. At a recent hearing on DDOT's budget, Marlene Berlin, head of the DC Senior Transportation Initiative for IONA Senior Services, presented maps showing the sections of DC with the most senior citizens, many of which are also the most lacking in sidewalks.
Left: streets without sidewalks (red) as of May 2007. Image from the DDOT Sidewalk Gap Analysis.
Right: census tracts with the highest concentrations of senior citizens. Image from Marlene Berlin.
Berlin explained that many seniors rely on walking for transporation (as do many non-seniors), and missing sidewalks, especially between their homes and the nearest shops or bus stops, create dangerous situations for people already more vulnerable to being hit and killed by vehicles. She urged the Council to fund sidewalks and close the gaps.
DDOT's general policy calls for adding sidewalks when reconstructing a road without them. However, neighbors don't always agree. Some have organized to oppose sidewalks in Hawthorne, a small triangular neighborhood at DC's northern border on the west side of Rock Creek Park. DDOT plans to install new sidewalks on Beech Street this year. Some opponents have posted lawn signs reading "No Sidewalks in Hawthorne". Resident Elliott wrote,
If the people in Hawthorne don't support sidewalks, then let's honor their choice. Personally, I live in Hawthorne, there are no sidewalks on my street, and I like it the way it is. In fact when I moved here and saw there were no sidewalks, I felt as if that was a plus.Others on the Chevy Chase email list, however, disagree. Resident Jim wrote,
Whether to have sidewalks should not be left up to the residents of the block, any more than whether to have streetlights or, for that matter, paved roads. A network of sidewalks is not built primarily for the residents of any one block, but rather for all of us who want to go safely from one place to another by foot.Sidewalk supporters pointed out that the edges of roads without sidewalks are often poorly paved, and cars often speed. Residents with children or dogs especially cited feeling unsafe walking on streets lacking sidewalks. Another pointed out that sidewalks do improve property values (while simultaneously urging residents of the area to refer to it as part of Chevy Chase, rather than as Hawthorne).
One issue about adding sidewalks involves where to place them. Currently, homeowners have landscaped and sometimes planted flowers in the "public park(ing)" area beside each street. They understandably hesitate to pave over these gardens. Where space permits, we should place the sidewalks inside the current roadbed, which would also slow traffic by narrowing the streets. Fortunately, according to resident Katie, most of the streets in Hawthorne are already fairly wide, allowing for new sidewalks that don't disturb existing green spaces.
Update: Here's DDOT's sidewalk policy. It says, "There shall be a sidewalk on at least one side of every street or roadway where pedestrians are legally permitted in the District of Columbia, and all new street designs shall include sidewalks on both sides of the street."
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