Today is

Saturday, March 22, 2008

If Green Is Gold - Sidewalks Are Platinum

It’s not about the Concrete – It’s the Concept

Although nearly 70% of Janesville has sidewalks, many residents, usually the one's without them, still seem fiercely opposed to installing them along the frontage of their property. A commenter on this blog pointed out that one of the Janesville city council candidates thought the best way to go environmentally "green" was without sidewalks. During the city council candidate forum on JA-TV12, the candidate mentioned that because sidewalks are impervious to water, they are detrimental to the environment.

Sidewalks in most cities including Janesville are concrete. The footprint they exert on the environment is small when compared to your average driveway or house. A 3 foot wide sidewalk 70 ft long adds up to 210 Sq. Ft., about the size of the average bedroom. While the average driveway is usually about 18 feet wide and 40 feet long, adding to 720 Sq.Ft. I would agree that the worst aspect of sidewalks is that they are made of concrete. But when we’re talking about sidewalks – it’s not about the concrete, it’s the concept.

Once you get past the concrete, sidewalks offer much more to adding to the quality of the human environment than can be adequately described here on a blog page. Using sidewalks might actually cut down on diabetes, obesity and other physical ailments caused by a sedentary lifestyle. A nice smooth sidewalk encourages people to walk instead of drive, cutting down on greenhouse gases and other nasty cancerous pollutants. Sidewalks also add to uplifting the outdoor “people” experience.

Here is an interesting blog with some discussion about why sidewalks are not green from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The blog author makes his case against sidewalks using a NY Times article. Unfortunately, the article only makes a fairly good case against concrete, not sidewalks.

Regardless of the material, to rail against the practical function of a smooth flat surface to comfortably and safely walk on is a difficult argument to say the least. Obviously there’s something more personally selfish involved here, be it either money or psychological.

Those who want to put “NO” sidewalks on the coattails of going green are barking up the wrong tree. On the other hand, if they are truly serious about the effects concrete has on the environment, they would press the city for a recycled material instead, and one that allows for the passing of water. Be prepared though, the costs will be higher than a concrete sidewalk. Maintenance will be more expensive too. But that shouldn’t stop them since it’s the environment they want to protect. Right?

News2Go Blog: Sidewalk discussion

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