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Letter of the Day: Safe sidewalks

  • PC: Students riding bikes from Kenilworth Junior High School in Petaluma share the sidewalk with walkers along E. Washington St. approaching McDowell St. in heavy traffic.

    1/19/00: Students riding bikes in heavy traffic Tuesday from Kenilworth Junior High School in Petaluma share the sidewalk with pedestrians along East Washington Street near McDowell Boulevard.

<b>Safe sidewalks</b>

EDITOR: The laws of sidewalks have become a prominent concern of mine since completing my first urban studies planning course at San Francisco State University. According to the legal definition, sidewalks must be free from hazards to pedestrians. Local laws govern the maintenance of sidewalks, and I was pleased to read that the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition is pushing for pedestrians and bicyclists to have greater legal power.

It is shocking that drivers will purposefully swerve at bicycle riders and pedestrians, threaten them, throw cans at them and, occasionally, even shoot at them. Sebastopol's proposed ordinance would give legal recourse to all who use the streets and sidewalks by targeting all types of harassment, passing at an unsafe distance and failing to yield to a pedestrian.

This is a step in the right direction, but I would suggest taking it further. Widening lanes and sidewalks could be helpful to pedestrian and bicyclists safety. Also, more eyes on the issues couldn't hurt, as most of the time these acts of harassment are unseen. If we could somehow get more patrolling in areas that continuously are affected, it might prevent future harmful actions.

HALEY BRANIGIN

San Francisco


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