The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, January 17, 2004

Everyday things about America that foreigners don't know: #94 The Suburban Sidewalk Mystery

Reading a mildly interesting piece in Fortune about the history of the American Interstate Highway System - Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill that started things off on June 29 1956 (from his hospital bed).

Towards the end, summing up the effects of interstates on the US, it says
most development of the past 50 years isn't dense enough to support mass transit—even when it is, the failure of newer suburbs to build sidewalks has made it unpleasant or impossible for many Americans to walk short distances to schools, stores, bus stops, and train stations.

Now, I'm no expert in what is, in the UK, still quaintly known as town and country planning. But I'm fairly surely that, in the UK, the necessary permissions would be refused to any proposed new suburb (or extension of an existing one) which did not supply sidewalks for all its roads.

In fact, it would be usual, on roads linking built-up areas separated by a few miles of agricultural or pastoral land, for sidewalks [1] to be provided. For walkers, rather than those going to work or to shop.

Yet, the most cursory search [2] suggests that sidewalks in suburbs is something of an old chestnut in the US: an AP piece wails, Do Suburbs Make You Fat? and quotes an academic ranting
Look at many new suburbs — there are not any sidewalks at all. ... The result is we just don't walk

Whoda thunkit...

  1. In British English, generally pavements - since, in cities, usually made up of paving slabs. In the suburbs, with lower footfall, more likely to be tarmac, or hardtop. Outside a built-up area, would tend to be called paths.

  2. For suburbs sidewalks, Mr Google racks up 19,000 items.

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