Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wondering In A Winter Walking Land

Once again this winter I have taken to looking at the impediments imposed upon the residents of Aylesford and Chevy Chase. This area has been characterized as being one of the most walkable parts of our community. That is true, except when “ole man Winter” comes to stay.

I read a comment on Facebook from a friend, which spoke to her normal daily commute to work in Chevy Chase after a heavy snowfall. The short, five – six block walk featured one, lone, shoveled walkway and that was done by a church. Yes, there were sub-freezing temperatures and a coating of ice but people got out and walked just the same.

I also received a tweet exposing a downtown surface parking lot for having plowed the lot but leaving sidewalks full of snow to traverse for the remainder of the trip to work or shop. By local ordinance, the property owner or their local agent/tenant is responsible for clearing the public sidewalk within 4 hours of the end of snowfall. In Lexington, that is rarely done.

On my daily way home from work I usually pass through the University campus and they have done a admirable job around the main buildings and the like. On some of their lesser properties, not so good but better than the business folks who make their profits on the student residents. For all of the apartment owner who rent to these kids and don't make the sidewalks safe for them to get to class and back, I say shame on you.

And don't think that the regular merchants and property owners along Euclid Ave are exempt from the shame. The embattled Kroger Corporation should take a look at its Chevy Chase location. The parking lot was cleared and paths made toward the front door, but they are responsible all the way to the street and the sidewalk there was untouched. Even though they acknowledged that a large percentage of their customers from the neighborhood approach by foot, Kroger has done nothing to make their property safer for them. As they move the new building closer to the streets, will they continue to ignore the pedestrian along the Marquis portion in particular?

Many of the retailers in Chevy Chase shopping center did, eventually, do a decent job of clearing the snow and ice. The same cannot be said of the homeowners in Ashland Park where still there are long stretches of uncleared sidewalks, yet plenty of plowed driveways are plainly seen. I also noticed that ice damaged trees were attended to but not the sidewalks

Why is it that this area, home to many of Lexington's elite(and don't tell them that they are not), feels the need to disregard non-drivers? The doctors, lawyers and even highly placed city officials should know their responsibilities and the consequences of not performing them, and that may be the problem. There are NO consequences enforced.

The fines for not following the required civic duties of homeowners and residents are NOT being assessed. Why do we have them if they are not enforced? Why do they not carry as much weight as our simple vehicle infractions of running a stop sign or failure to yield? Perhaps the Council could spend as much time and effort debating this as the did the handicap parking issue, with a similar result of raising fines to not be collected.

I have only detailed a short 2 or 3 mile stretch of roadway and I am sure that many of you can elaborate on others. Walkable areas like the Southland Dr neighborhoods or parts of the north end all have the same problem. I just think that we should be doing something about it. The groundhog says that we still have 6 weeks of winter, so we are not done yet. And there is always next year still to come.

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