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L.A.'s sidewalks of shame

April 19, 2014
  • Ethan Robarts, 17, navigates the sidewalk along the 2400 block of Prosser Avenue in Los Angeles. "I just jump over it," Robarts said.
Ethan Robarts, 17, navigates the sidewalk along the 2400 block of Prosser… (Los Angeles Times )

Fancy this: In a city known for its car culture, Angelenos care deeply about their sidewalks.

Every time the issue of fixing L.A.'s thousands of miles of neglected walkways gets tackled in the opinion or news pages, at least a dozen readers (not a huge amount, but more than on the average topic) fume about their experiences negotiating sidewalks buckled by massive tree roots or just wear and tear. In response to an editorial and a news article this week on the city sitting on a $10-million fund for sidewalk repair, 22 readers wrote letters imploring L.A. to take action or offering their advice for improving the walking experience here.

As someone who regularly runs and walks and pushes a stroller on sidewalks in L.A. and its surrounding burbs, this reaction isn't surprising. But there might be a takeaway here for L.A. pols: If you want electoral success, give Angelenos (the ones who write to The Times, anyway) an earful about good sidewalks.

— Paul Thornton, letters editor

Harvey Barkan of Studio City says L.A. may be getting its inspiration from General Motors:

Where the deplorable condition of sidewalks has been acknowledged and funds budgeted for repairs, continued deferred action by the city is inexcusable. Delaying maintenance must increase liability.

The decision to start repair work with walkways near city buildings seems self-serving; everyone walks on sidewalks near their homes every day, but how often does everyone walk near city facilities (unless you are an elected official or municipal employee)?

Perhaps the city has been reading the General Motors guidebook on how to delay needed safety actions.

Woodland Hills resident David Schaffer tells cyclists to get off his pedestrian pavement:

The safety highlighted by the photo showing a teenager riding his bike on the sidewalk deserves to be addressed.

Of great concern is the misappropriation of sidewalks by cyclists who treat this pavement as another bike lane. The state has given cyclists the same rights and privileges as cars on the streets.

It's time for the Los Angeles Police Department to take action against bike riders who show little regard for pedestrian safety.

Felicity Lewis of Granada Hills suggests a characteristically Californian solution to buckling sidewalks:

Have officials in Los Angeles debated the use of recycled tires to correct our sidewalk problems?

Sidewalks can be constructed using old tires, creating easy-to-assemble walkways. When there is a problem with tree roots, lift up the sections, correct the root problem and replace the pieces.

Repairs would be simple: No jackhammering. Remove the damaged section and replace with a new piece.

Additional benefits would include quieter walkways and, I'm guessing, fewer injuries to those who fall.

Instead of talking about going green, let's actually do it.

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