b'Walking around Anchorage with a sight disabilityBeing forced to walk is life-changing and living in a com-The Municipality has two sidewalk plows. Obviously, munity with a vast network of paths makes it manageable.two plows are inadequate to handle our miles of trails The Anchorage trail system is massive and well main- and paths. In the winter months, I use my white cane to tained for the most part. While some uneven asphalt pathsnavigate. Low-light levels impact my vision. Ive learned illustrate the map of tree roots below, most are in goodafter a new snow fall that white-cane travel is virtual-condition. Our Parks and Recreation Department and thely impossible when the sidewalks are not plowed. Even AnchorageDowntownPartnershiptirelesslymaintainworse, road graders often try to clear sidewalks, but they this system, especially during the winter months.make the situation even more dangerous.Naturally, I view paths and sidewalks differently from When a road grader cleans up the sidewalks, they cre-drivers, who dont need to think about them. In the sum- ate a sidewalk redirection at every light pole, fire hydrant mer months, the only restrictions or hazards on the as- or tree. For those that are capable, they can walk over phaltandconcreteisthestageoftheirmaintenance.the short distance adjacent to the obstruction to the side While Parks and Rec do a good job at this, the Municipali- where the sidewalk is cleared again. When in a wheel-tys maintenance budget must be overwhelmed. The Alas- chair or walking with a white cane, that person is danger-ka Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is locatedously forced into the street. Add the element of the low on Taft Road off Spenard. The intersection of Taft/McRaeangle of the winter sun as a driver heads south, obscuring and Spenard is outfitted with a talking crosswalk, acrosshis vision, and you have a recipe for disaster.from the beautiful Fire Station 5. Yet the concrete side- Whats the solution to ease the overburdened sidewalk walk on the south side of Spenard between Taft and Min- plowsandincreasemobilitythroughoutthenavigable nesota is almost impassable without stepping into traffic. pathways? Community! All residents and business own-As the winter months set in, travel on foot becomes muchers with a sidewalk on their property are required, by law, more difficult. In general, Alaska and the Municipality ofto keep the sidewalk clear and passable.Unfortunately, Anchorage do a poor job of maintaining their pathways andthat law isnt enforced.sidewalks. We as a community can do better.If we as a community pulled together and cleared ourWe have State and Municipal highways and roadwaysproperties,itwouldimprovepedestrianflow,which within Anchorage. Each entity has the responsibility towould likely increase the use of the pathways, thus re-maintain its roadway and sidewalk networks, but the twoducingtheburdenontheMunicipalityandthestate. are maintained independently of one another.Ive heardMaybe then we could have a network of walking, biking complaints about the slow response to plowing roads, butand wheelchair paths that is navigable.I have not heard many complaints about clearing the side-Please do your part and clear and maintain your side-walks. I understand thismost people commute by car. walks. Everyone benefits.Sidewalks blockedor partially blocked with snow and ice can be extremely dangerous to navigate. People with limited sight or mobility problems can find their paths leading to perilous proximity to oncoming traffic.UrbanStreets Anchorage |19'