A Tale of Two Walks

In the past two days, I’ve made some odd short walks. They took place along the same street, Broad Ripple Avenue.

On Wednesday, the walk started at Marsh near Keystone Avenue. I was dropped off by my wife who then went on to my friends house, which is located to the north west of the Marsh on Burlington Avenue. I decided to meet her there after buying some essential items. The stores in the strip malls I passed along the way are decent (even if they are not open very late), but the strip malls themselves are simply a couple of concrete boxes. Then, going north on Burlington, the sidewalk stops for a block on both sides. On the immediate right side of the street, there’s a drainage ditch that a person who isn’t paying attention can fall in to. The developers of this addition had no premonition of walking to the stores. I’m guessing the addition was built first, and the stores were added later. Still, placing a residential street near an important corridor without installing sidewalks at the entry point is telling. Then, at the next intersection the sidewalks restart.

Last night, the walk started at the Kroger on Guilford Avenue, where I had to stop to pick up some milk. Immediately upon entering the parking lot, there was a car being towed. This made me nervous, as I also had to walk to Hot Box Pizza to pick up some breadsticks (and if you don’t know about them, get them tonight if you can). Parking is at a premium, and there were no other free spots available for a quick stop, so I took my chances. The street on a Thursday night was alive. I’m not a big fan of most of the bars along Broad Ripple Avenue, especially on a weekend, but there was still this sense of being in a particular place where things were happening. And fortunately, my car was still there when I got back to it.

The main (and sad) conclusion that I draw from these two walks is that the first walk is a lot more common in this city than the second one, especially beyond the old city limits. The tired argument against urbanism and density is that not everyone wants to live in New York City. However, there are few options for the people who do actually want to live in a city or even a neighborhood, while there are countless ones for people who want to live a suburban lifestyle. It’s a major reason I believe there’s a pent-up demand for neighborhood and mixed use development, and that steps the city takes to improve it’s infrastructure could pay off big time.

Comments 7

  • It’s been my biggest complaint about living in Broad Ripple — a sidewalk here and not one there. There are plans to make improvements so that it is more walkable, but I’m dreading the traffic that will come with construction/repaving. And sad that there won’t be bike lanes when it’s all said and done.

  • I’ve not heard much about this new project, but the things I have heard are not good.

    I know that in my neighborhood which is 8 blocks south of BR, there are a ton of start-stop sidewalks, and walkability gets gradually better the further west I go. Once you’re on the other side of the Monon, good luck finding a sidewalk at all.

  • Kevin – Love the blog. Not spamming but I don’t know how to contact you directly – thought you might be into this http://www.nealtaflinger.com/blog/?p=239

    Docu about the Indiana Historic Road is screening tonight at the Irving.


  • Wow, that’s pretty neat. I’ll consider going to this.

  • something to note about the Dawnbury Keystone Neighborhood (bordered by Evanston, Keystone, 65th, and Broad Ripple Ave): in the early 1990s, Marsh started gobbling up property virtually overnight in the 62nd and Keystone area. essentially, the neighbors were upset by this and started the Dawnbury Keystone Neighborhood Preservation Association to try to prevent Marsh from building. Marsh eventually conceded and some arrangements were made. One of them was to replace existing sidewalks with new side walks (hence the newer looking ones after Maple drive) as well as build some new ones. unfortunately, Marsh did not uphold it’s promise all the way.

    you are right though, Kevin. the neighborhood was built in the late 1940s before the concept of strip malls existed. it was essentially a farm owned that was developed into a subdivision. my guess was that 62nd and Keystone was not a major thoroughfare at that time.

    i walk to Marsh weekly (if not more, barring inclement weather) and have never felt unsafe. the neighborhood association has talked about new sidewalks, but it is well beyond their means. they don’t make enough money (if any) to fund that type of improvement.

    the drainage ditches are a bit unsightly…i do agree with you there. i prefer it to having the road wash away like it did on Maple Drive just west of Burlington.

  • Thanks Mike for the background on your neighborhood. The good news is that you can still employ the “useful walk.” Many other people live too far away from places of business to do so. Have you seen walkscore?
    Your walkscore is really good, and is better than my walkscore.

    I’m sure that installing sidewalks would be expensive for your neighborhood. It is unfortunate that they were not included in the original plan. My neighborhood certainly isn’t perfect. One block east of my house, the sidewalks are hit-and-miss (mostly miss).

  • yeah, your neighborhood is funny that way too. i know because i run through it every day!

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