Shel Silverstein was wrong. THIS is where the sidewalk ends. This is a photo of Harbor Dr just before it becomes Bayshore, the road we live on. Harbor is a very long street. It starts on the southest part of the island, Caspersen Beach and runs, first, North then gently turns West to the sea and then turns once again south and ends at Venice Avenue. Along the way, it changes names multiple times: Habor, Bayshore, Laguna and The Esplanade. But it's all the same street. Half of those different names are, apparently, sidewalk-worthy, half are not. Bayshore is not. See, if I turn and take a photo in the other direction at this intersection......
NO sidewalk. I'm sure you saw the intersecting street sign. Tarpon (which is a kind of fish by the way) is the line of demarcation. On the south side, sidewalk, on the north side, no sidewalk. We noticed this shortly after we bought the house, (and isn't it funny what a person doesn't notice?) and wondered about why the sidewalk ended, but we had other things on our minds at the time.
When we first moved it, in June, it was during the sleepy part of the year. Very few tourists and almost no snowbirds. The population is noticeably smaller during the summer which means less traffic. Well, and, it's hotter outside, way more humid too, so fewer people are out walking or biking during the day. We really did not consider the lack of sidewalk as anything more than another quirky island curiosity.
Until a couple of months passed and we went out in the early morning air to bring in our newspaper only to find our brand new mailbox smashed to smithereens. The bits and pieces of were strewn up and down the road in front of our house. I wondered what on earth happened until I also found somebody's sideview mirror in the midst of the rubble. It was disheartening. Obviously someone, driving much too fast somehow swerved into our mailbox. All we could think was, at least it happened at night. If it had been during the day...well..what if someone had been walking past our house at that time. What a shame that there is no sidewalk.
Well, Tim replaced the mailbox (again) and a few more months went by. The weather cooled down a bit, the humidity settled down a lot and the traffic, or all sorts, picked up. Suddnly, there were a lot more people on our road. Some on bikes, some on foot, other in golf carts, on skateboards, in delivery or work trucks and of course, cars. It's a narrow road, with little to no shoulder and all of those various sorts of traffic are having to share the same space. As long as everyone is considerate about it, there should be no problem, right?
The fact of the matter is, that not everyone is considerate. There are the cars and trucks that completely ignore the 25 MPH signs and come flying through our little island rods. There are the vehicles of all sorts who cannot seem to decide which lane they want to be in. Honestly folks, there are only two lanes. Pick one. Preferably the one you are supposed to be in, please.
Of course then there are the trucks of all sorts, delivery trucks, work trucks, city trucks that have no option other than to park in front of people's houses, which in this case, completely block one lane. And I musn't forget the bicyclers! The novices who wobbly all over the road, or the ones who travel in packs and pedal sometimes 3 across, again completely filling a lane, but I suppose at least are moving. And the variety of bikes! Regular bikes, tandem bikes, recumbent bikes, giant tricycles; they take up space on the roads (and bear in mind I ride my bike here too, so I'm just as guilty) And those absolutely silent street legal golf carts that sneak up on a person! Yikes! Then there is the occasional adrenal junkie skateboarder whizzing along down the freakin' middle of the road drives me crazy!
Now add to this mix, the people on foot. And I'm one of them! I'm either biking or walking 99% of the time if I'm on the road. Pedestrian traffic is huge here. It's a gorgeous place to walk but when there is no side walk, people are walking in the street. Sometimes good sized groups of people who, due to their groupo size are primarily in the road, or the families with those giant baby carriages, definitely in the road, people walking their dogs or their kids, or both! On the rare occasion when I'm driving somewhere on island, it has occurred to me more than once that it's like driving a slalom course.
I think it's awesome that there is such a wide variety of ways to get wherever people want or need to be here on our adorable little island. Honestly I do. But, especially during "the season", that's a lot of traffic of all sorts. And particularly when there are no sidewalks to remove at least one element, that is to say, pedestrians, from the road congestion equation.
And all of the preceding blahdeblahblah was to explain that yesterday, a good sized group of people from my neighborhood, including me, went to town hall to speak about our need for a sidewalk. Many of us, once again including me, got to speak, present our case, as it were. All of the stories were a little different, personal. But we were all united on one thing. It's not safe to walk on our own road. People have sadly been injured, one poor soul tragically had her pet run over while on it's leash! It's not just a matter of "loss of mailbox" as in my case. We were listened to very intently. The town council has promised to take our concerns to heart. We shall see what happens, I suppose.
I am happy that we live in a place where the citizens can go before the people in charge and explain how we feel, tell them what we want and why and even happier that they listened respectfully to what we each had to say. I want to be hopeful but I have an inherent distrust of politicians, sorry to say. So I don't know if their encouraging words were just the typical quackquackquack of any governing body or is this something they will actually consider? I am dubious.
But I sincerely hope that they prove me wrong.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.