Sidewalks

Grants Pass

Grants Pass

The thing about sidewalks is, they are in the wrong places.

When I am in a suburb in the US, I find myself walking on spacious sidewalks. At intersections I find a cross walk. If there is a traffic light, I also find a button I can push which will give me a “walk” signal and stop cross traffic so that I can cross safely. Not long ago, I crossed a major highway – US 99W – on foot several times. And I did so calmly because I was in a cross walk with the “walk” signal lit.

Accra

Accra

On the other hand, when I walk in Accra, even in the nicer neighborhoods, there are rarely sidewalks. Worse, ditches, fences, walls, parked cars, and the little kiosks put up by enterprising Africans, too often take up every inch of walking space, so that there is not even the narrowest strop of dirt or grass left. I am forced out into the street next to cars moving at a pretty good clip. So are other pedestrians. In suburbs in the US, I often find that I am the only person using the sidewalks. All those beautiful sidewalks, and so few people using them. On the other hand, pedestrians far outnumber drivers in most African cities. A new highway in Accra was built right through a heavily populated area with inadequate provision for the many pedestrians. Drivers speed along the highway as people try to cross. The unfortunate result is predictable, or at least it should have been. It is always in the news.

In the US, we build sidewalks that are underused while the places that really need them don’t build enough. So, the thing about sidewalks is, they are in the wrong places.

If you liked this, you might also like Harmattan, Advice on Ghana Taxi Windows, or Yugu-yugu.

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2 thoughts on “Sidewalks

  1. Guess I better start thanking God for sidewalks, something I’ve taken for granted. I’ll stop complaining about Leonard Rd, where sometimes there’s about a foot between the car lane and a ditch, sometimes with water in it. Not all off it, just some places. Maxine

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