Denton sidewalks threaten pedestrian safety

Denton sidewalks threaten pedestrian safety

Denton sidewalks threaten pedestrian safety
October 26
03:39 2016

The condition of Denton’s sidewalks, or lack thereof, suggests public safety is not as important to city officials as it should be.

In an effort to reach out to as many Dentonites as possible, I tweeted a poll with this simple question:

It’s pitiful how, of the 312 votes cast, 46 percent showed how several neighborhoods in Denton do not have any sidewalks. With the likelihood of homeowners wanting people to walk on lawns being slim, the only option for pedestrians is to walk on the road. If not having sidewalks is bad enough, a further 25 percent of votes cast show there are neighborhoods with sidewalks in need of repairs. There are far too many Denton sidewalks crumbling and poor maintenance is to blame.

Sadly, only 15 percent of voters consider sidewalks in Denton neighborhoods to be acceptable, while 14 percent feel they are just fine.

Is there anything being done to repair existing sidewalks? What about replacing them? Should new institutions even be constructed without sidewalks?

The people that should know the answer to these questions sit on the Denton Traffic and Safety Committee. To garner information pertaining to sidewalks and public safety, I sent emails to Texas Woman’s University professors Wallace Campbell and Nancy DiMarco. Both figures serve as commissioners on the committee. “[Campbell and I] don’t draft policy but provide input to the city when issues about traffic and safety arise,” DiMarco responded.

When people walk anywhere in Denton, they should be able to do so without fear of being run over. Sidewalks go a significant way in keeping people safe from traffic-induced accidents.

In 2010, Abigail Allen, a previous managing editor of the North Texas Dailywrote an op-ed headlined “Denton Needs More Sidewalks.” It reads: “One patch of road in Denton that lacks sidewalks on one or both sides of the street is more than a mile stretch from the corner of Bernard Street and Eagle Drive and onto Dallas Drive. Throughout that path, there are two bus stops on the sides without sidewalks running to them.”

How much has the city changed since Allen’s piece?

Now, Bernard Street has more sidewalks than it did in 2010, but there are still patches of the street unsafe for pedestrians to walk. Sidewalks should be on both sides of Bernard Street and Eagle Drive, making destinations more reachable. The contrast between the new and old apartments is glaring. Built since Allen’s piece, the newer Eagle Drive apartments have sidewalks; whereas, the older apartments have provisions for parking but no sidewalk.

Airport Road, which is seen above, is even worse. Try walking to UNT’s Library Annex, located on Precision Drive. While the journey to and from the annex is too far for comfort, feeling safe upon walking it should be a priority.

Three days a week, I walk to UNT’s Research Collections Library, located just off of campus on I-35 Frontage Road. Anyone familiar with West Prairie Street knows how irregular its sidewalks are. There are significant stretches of the road where sidewalks do not exist.

Pedestrians are every bit as deserving of safety as drivers. Considering recent road repairs, sidewalks appear to not be as prioritized as roads are. The Denton Traffic and Safety Committee seems to forget not everyone drives. There is a percentage of Dentonites that puts one foot in front of the other to get where they need to go.

Don’t be under the impression that Denton’s sidewalks are an isolated case. Other Texas cities like Austin and Houston have similar problems. So something should be done to address all of these issues across the state.

Dentonites have a long walk ahead before city roads are safe for pedestrians.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Shain E. Thomas

Shain E. Thomas

Born in Sacramento, University of North Texas graduate student Shain E. Thomas is an actor, social historian and a freelance entertainment journalist. Shain, a member of National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and the UNT chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), is interested in studying Antebellum American history.

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