by David Falk
One spring day, they appeared as if by magic: Men and equipment, digging dirt and pouring concrete across Linnean Avenue from my house. Within a few days, we had our first sidewalk after 45 years of without. It has humanized the neighborhood.
Our part of Linnean Avenue was intended by the traffic engineers as a secondary circulator. The traffic has only increased as the metro area exploded. No one ventured to walk down our street during our twice-daily rush hours. Too risky.
But now, at last, our street is safe, safe for adults and safe for children. The children came out like the daffodils in springtime. Weston on his two wheeler with training wheels, followed by sister Julia on her tricycle, heading for the Chesapeake Playground. “Hi, Mr. Falk,” Weston would call. Dog walkers appeared, dutifully picking up poop like good neighbors. Joggers moved from the street to the sidewalk. Walkers chose our block for their weekend constitutionals. Even winter snows present no obstacle as trusty neighbor Bob and his snow blower clear the way.
Shortly after the sidewalk arrived, there was a rash of neighborhood burglaries. As ours was the only house on the block with unobstructed access to the back yard, we had to install a gate. Most gates are solid, like the others on our block, but ours had to be transparent – widely spaced steel bars, in fact — so we could follow the sidewalk activity from our kitchen eating nook. That’s how much the sidewalk means to us.