Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Of pedestrians and pavements

Did you know that nearly 35 percent of the people killed in December's road carnage were pedestrians? It's something that's easy to understand when you're driving around suburbia, because the vast majority of pedestrians you'll see are walking in the street - some perilously close to the curb, looking like they're about to tip over onto the pavement, while others stroll more towards the middle of the road, with cars swerving around them to avoid a collision. 

I'm still not sure why so many people walk in the street, when often there are pavements right there. Maybe its a hangover from the bad old days - were non-whites not allowed to walk on the pavements back then? Regardless, this train of thought got me taking the time to look at pavements while I'm driving around town. 

Pavements in Johannesburg are not pedestrian-friendly places, and they really, really should be. 

I've noticed that the Joburg City Council is doing some good work paving public pavements - Louis Botha Avenue is a great example towards the Alexandra end of the road, although pavement conditions are absolutely appalling and a disgrace through Orange Grove and towards Houghton. The intersection at the top of my road is a mud pit - even when it hasn't been raining - and the intersection is a popular stopping place for taxis. 

I know that public money isn't spent quickly (unless it's on Nkandla) and that they're making an effort. I also understand that these things take time. They're also doing a great job with the City's parks - our outdoor spaces really do look good - apart from the pavements. 

But what about the pavements outside our homes? Even though your pavement doesn't belong to you (your property ends at your wall), its upkeep and maintenance are the home owner's responsibility. I've seen some great pavements, and I've seen some shocking ones. There's one on my route to school where the home owners have planted a forest of trees, three or four deep, to make sure that nobody can get to - or over - their wall. Great for security, but completely awful for any pedestrian who is pushed off the pavement and onto a busy road. 

There are some pavements that are overgrown with ivy, and no place to walk. There's a house on my road that started renovations two years ago, and there's still a pile of builder's sand blocking the paved part of the pavement. I've seen pavements where bushes push over, blocking the pathway, and others that are uneven, full of stones, or just not nice to walk on - never mind push a pram on. 

So. This thing of dying pedestrians and awful pavements becomes one of things that we all need to play our small role in to fix. We can start by driving less aggressively, paying more attention to what's going on and who's walking in the street where. 

But we can also own up to our own pavements, making them easier places to walk. You don't need to haul in a landscaper - just clean up any plants that are over any paved areas outside your property. Don't plant forests on your pavements. Clean up your building rubble. Get someone in to level the ground out, if the area isn't paved or tarred (or do it yourself). 

Walk your pavement yourself, and think about the experience. Then fix whatever makes your experience unpleasant. 

If you're planning some home improvements, think of improving your kerb appeal (what estate agents call 'first impressions'- those are the things that help sell your house one day) and invest a little in paving your pavement. You don't have to plant anything pretty - although you could. You could even take things 'to the next level' and plant a pavement veggie garden, for hungry people to help themselves - but you don't have to. 

All you have to do is take a little time to think about what it's like to be a pedestrian walking past your house - and make their lives a little easier while making your house look better from the outside.

You may well help save a life in the process. 

1 comment:

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Great article..!!
thanks for sharing.. :)