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Ask the Editor

Podcast #2: Editors Tackle Your Questions… About Sidewalks

Sidewalks don’t get the love they deserve. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

Today, the editors at Streetsblog California bring you the second podcast in our “Ask the Editor” series, in which we attempt to answer readers' questions about whatever you want to ask.

This podcast series is part of our year-end fundraising effort to keep informing you, our readers, about local and statewide policymaking, funding, and laws affecting your transportation options. Please consider supporting our work by clicking here and donating today. Who else, we ask you, could bring you a podcast dedicated to: sidewalks?

That's right, today's podcast addresses several questions we received from readers about sidewalks, a crucial part of our transportation system that is frequently ignored and almost always under-appreciated. At some point, everybody is a pedestrian, and everyone is affected by the presence—or absence—as well as the condition of walkways wherever they're headed.

“Why don't sidewalks get all the love they deserve?” asked our friends at Los Angeles Walks. We agree that sidewalks are not given the attention we need them to have. How much love do they deserve? Plenty!

Reader Getting Around Sac also asked why California law makes property owners responsible for maintaining sidewalks, which are part of the public right of way. It's true that's what the law says—and also that it changes from place to place. Some cities split costs with homeowners; some use parcel taxes, or require new owners to make needed repairs at the time of purchase. Los Angeles, for one, has its own complicated relationship with sidewalk repair rules, and some there don't think Vision Zero safety efforts have anything to do with sidewalk repair needs.

We learned a little bit about the history of the sidewalk law—it was created during the Great Depression, when cities had no money to build or maintain anything. The question sent us off on a discussion of equity and liability, and then right back to our first question, because nobody seems to want to take responsibility for sidewalks.

Do you have a question you want us to talk about? Submit it in the comments below, or by email to melanie [at] streetsblog.org, or tweet them @streetsblogcal

Support journalism that covers the issues you want to know about. Streetsblog California reports on issues few media outlets cover, and we can't do it without you. Click here to donate today.

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