One of the few mistakes mid- 20th century developers made was to build neighborhoods without sidewalks. Who knows what was going through their heads at the time?
Earlier developments had included sidewalks. Sidewalks are all over in Madera, Fresno and Merced neighborhoods that were built in the first half of the 20th century.
But then they began to disappear. Planning commissions and city councils of those days bowed to developers when they were told that people weren’t going to walk any more. Better to build streets without sidewalks, they were told. And for some reason — maybe many reasons — they bought that.
So you have a lot of neighborhoods in those cities, including Madera, which are without sidewalks.
Fortunately, sidewalks again became a requirement, and developments of today must include them, along with curbs and gutters.
I believe that neighborhoods with sidewalks foster that most accessible of exercises — walking.Any able-bodied person can go for a walk. All one needs is comfortable shoes — and a place to walk them.
When we first moved to Madera, we lived in a neighborhood with sidewalks, and I went for a lot of walks. I felt safe having sidewalks, and so did the many neighbors I would see and speak to who also took walks.
Then, we moved to a non-sidewalk neighborhood, and now I take far fewer walks. I never feel quite as safe walking in the street as I do on a sidewalk, and I know others who feel the same way. You never know when somebody in a car or on a bicycle is going to come along and clip you. One feels as though one is trespassing on pavement deeded to cars and bicycles.
By the way, speaking of bicycles, a community bike ride will be held Saturday along the river trail, starting at 9 a.m. in Rotary Park. For more information, call Peg Gregory, 903-1617.