During today’s luncheon thanking those who participated in the Lansing Walkability Audit in 2011, a good friend was describing the poor condition of some sidewalks in the area. After receiving a lackluster response to one particularly bad segment, she noted, “sidewalks are not just for the physically fit.”
No truer statement has ever been said. For those of us who are physically fit, we hardly ever think about a heaved, cracked, broken, or missing section of sidewalk – we just bypass it or step over it. But the same cannot be said for those in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, on tricycles, using walkers, or for the visually impaired. In fact, I would contend that in many cases, sidewalks are more critical for the disadvantaged, seniors, small children, and the physically impaired than they are for the rest of us.
Sponsored by AARP of Michigan and the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council (Mid-MEAC), the Lansing Walkability Audit will survey the walking conditions along 700 miles of streets throughout the city. It is the largest project of its kind in the nation. This fact, combined with Lansing being the first community in the State of Michigan to adopt a Complete Streets Ordinance in 2009 makes me very proud.
However, that does not mean things are perfect and fixing damaged, broken, heaved, missing, or poorly constructed sidewalks will take time and effort to identify and correct. In the meantime, it is important for all of us to remember that not everyone is as mobile as we are and the condition of the sidewalks can make the difference between independence and dependence; between mobility and immobility; between more fit and less fit; and between good health and poor health.
As we move int 2012, please consider participating in this worthwhile endeavor if you live in Greater Lansing or similar programs elsewhere. Volunteers here may contact either AARP of Michigan at 1-866-227-7448 or Mid-MEAC at 517-292-3078. In the meantime, if you see a problem with sidewalks in your area, connect to seeclickfix.com and pass along the report. Hope to you strolling and surveying the sidewalks in 2012.