Importance of Sidewalks


I unfortunately was unable to attend Friday’s field trip to Borgo Bello due to prior travel engagements. So, instead I will talk more about Tuesday’s class in relation to the reading.

When I first read the title of the reading, I asked myself “what are sidewalks used for?” I came up with the generic answer of giving people a place to walk that is generally safer than the street. Then I started reading and quickly discovered that “streets in cities serve many purposes besides carrying vehicles, and city sidewalks- the pedestrian parts of the streets- serve many purposes besides carrying pedestrians.” Jacobs reiterates again and again that sidewalks are one of the things that make a city either feel safe or unsafe.

In my personal opinion, I agree with Jacobs. When I walk around my neighborhood at home just outside of Pittsburgh, I feel safe because of the amount of life and light on the sidewalks and around the streets. There are kids playing, people walking their dogs or simply getting the mail. That alone makes me feel safe, knowing that there are people around staying vigilant. I also feel the same way when I am walking around by myself at Penn State. It’s a huge campus with over 40,000 students, but that number makes me feel safe. You are never actually walking alone you’re walking with 40,000 other students. Personally, being where people are makes me feel safer.

A few weekends ago my roommates and I visited the small, scenic Tuscan town of Montepulciano. We arrived late on Friday night, around the time that most young adults would be out at the bars. But, the streets were absolutely silent and there was not a person in sight. We had a twenty-minute walk to get to our hotel, and yet even though I was with my roommates I did not feel safe in the slightest bit. This town has probably never even heard of the word sidewalk, due to the fact that we were walking in the middle of a poorly lit street. The town of Montepulciano, I later found out, is a safe one. However I did not feel safe because of the lack of people, the lack of light and the lack of sidewalks, which are three major points that Jacobs touched on.

When Jacobs wrote, “you can’t make people use streets when they have no reason to. You can’t make people watch streets they do not want to watch,” it reminded me of the terrace we will be working on. The average town goer does not see the terrace, because it requires you to take a sort of back alley. It is not advertised and I’m sure a good portion of the town either doesn’t even know it exists or relates the terrace to drug dealing and danger. This is something we need to change and I am looking forward to working on the terrace to make it a safe and beautiful place for everyone to enjoy.


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