Moncton — Mayor Dawn Arnold announced today that work will commence in the spring to remove Moncton’s many sidewalks.
“We already have no usable sidewalks for six months of the year. But even in the warm months they’re uneven, they slant or drop at every driveway…they’re awful,” she explained. “And on the streets with the most traffic they’re just a narrow strip right up against the road — the cars practically brush your elbows.
“Our sidewalk snowblower drivers requested a meeting with me a while back and it just went from there.”
“We’re frustrated,” said driver Joe Bloe. “In the winter, no one uses the sidewalks we work so hard to keep open. We rattle our brains out bumping along in those little machines clearing the snow and spreading sand, but still people prefer walking in the road.”
“Mais oui!” observed 80-year-old Joanne Dupuis, towing her groceries in a little two-wheeled cart along Elmwood Drive. “After some traffic and salt, and a nice sunny day or two, the road is down to the bare pavement, so I can actually walk!
“Even the patches of ice are pretty flat and not too bad if I’m careful. The sidewalks are either sheets of ice, or puddles or slush, or uneven frozen slush, or all of that. Plus you have to climb over mountains of snow left by the plows at the street corners and driveways. I’m too old for obstacle courses. My ankles are too old.”
NBCC student Kevin Betts agreed. “The sidewalk plows put down sand, and then after the next snowfall or thaw it disappears. And the snowbanks shade the sidewalks, so after dark you can’t see where you’re walking. How many times have I slipped and fallen, or gone through slush and got my feet soaking wet? Screw that.”
Other pedestrians noted that sharing the road with traffic isn’t that bad.
“I know drivers aren’t crazy about us being there, especially on busy streets like Mountain Road, but I think most of them understand,” said Vic Blanchard, leaning on his crutches. “You give them room to pass, and they’re pretty careful not to splash you or hit you, so everyone gets along.”
City staff have studied the situation carefully.
“We did the math,” said Mayor Arnold. “Removing the sidewalks and widening the streets will give people a better place to walk, and actually save the city money in the long run. Sure, there might be a slight increase in deaths from vehicle-pedestrian collisions, but way fewer injuries from falls and sprains. Premier Higgs told me the province will even help fund the work, because it will save the health-care system so much money.”
Walking her dog, Penny Feldman disagreed. “Yeah, the sidewalks are hell for walking no matter what the season. But when there’s a snowbank, at least it gives you some protection from cars splashing you. And in the summertime the concrete is cooler than asphalt to walk on. But there’s no stopping progress, is there? I’ll miss them, I suppose.”