Apparently, I grew up in the land of privilege. Obviously this is true in comparison to much of the world, and a good chunk of the US, but I'm not really talking about financial privilege or white privilege right now. I'm talking about a land where sidewalks are commonplace, and one can walk down the street without constantly feeling as though a car might attack from behind. As is often the case with privilege, it wasn't until I encountered diversity that I realized how truly lucky I was.
Fayetteville is a cute town, with minimal crime and a lovely trail system. I've started to think that the trail system emerged because there seem to be NO SIDEWALKS ANYWHERE! OK, there are sidewalks at the entertainment district (Dickson Street) and throughout most of campus, but only sporadically everywhere else.
Also, even where there ARE sidewalks, in many places they are right next to the street, without a comfortable little grass median in between. Hell, I'd take a few rows of rocks over the lack of buffer. Doug and I once walked from our place to see some friends, who lived about a mile away. It was a pleasant night and a nice walk, except for the 1/2 mile stretch along one of the busiest roads in town, which felt mighty dangerous on a weekend at night, particularly with the high drinking-and-driving rate around here.
Let me tell you, it makes walking around far more of an adventure sport that it should be. Every day now, I walk across campus (on a legitimate sidewalk) to a small street with a side-car sidewalk, to my own street, which has no sidewalk and a pretty sharp curve right before the house. I've taken to walking on the opposite side of the street so I can see the cars coming.
I would really like to know why there are so few sidewalks in Fayetteville. Are sidewalks a new thing? Were they just not the rage when these streets or lots were made? Is it a zoning thing? I don't actually care enough to dig into the research, but that is more because I'm busy with other things than due to lack of curiosity.
All I can say for sure is that my sidewalk diversity training, as it were, has made me much more appreciative of sidewalked subdivisions and aware of my own bias toward sidewalked streets. Does that make me a concreteist?