By Alysia Green
The bus just pulled into the bus loop at Sparrows Point High School; I gather my belongings and prepare to walk home.
After exiting the bus, I cross North Point Road to Lodge Farm Road, which is fairly busy because around 3 p.m., parents are on their way to pick up their children at local schools.
Once on Lodge Farm Road, I continue on asphalt paths. Because it rained recently, the paths are flooded and at certain points I must walk alongside cars on the road, which can feel as if I am dodging them.
If you live in the Sparrows Point-Edgemere community you are well aware of the absence of sidewalks and the asphalt paths that pose as sidewalks. If not, you may live in a neighborhood with a similar issue.
This issue is one that you may have ignored because it seems minute in comparison to other issues. I too felt this way. I was unaware of the seriousness of this issue until it was necessary for me to walk home.
I attend George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, a magnet school in Towson, which provides transportation to and from my home school (Sparrows Point); from there I must walk home.
Although there are a few narrow pathways in the neighborhood to walk on, unlike concrete sidewalks, they are uneven, poorly made and are unlevel to the degree that they are a challenge to walk on.
As I continued my walk, I noticed two boys skateboarding on the road, opposite of me. Curious, I asked them why they weren’t skateboarding on the paths.
“The paths are rough," said Skylar Bachman, 13.
“[The paths] are near the woods, sticks and acorns land on them,” Alex Linderman, 13, said.
“They will stop the wheels and you’ll fly right off," Skylar finished.
It is apparent that these boys spend their time outside getting their exercise, but with the lack of sidewalks, skateboarding becomes a safety hazard.
Although these middle school students weren’t coming from school, many students from Sparrows Point Middle and High schools are required to walk home from school because their houses are too close to the school to have bus transportation. This poses a safety hazard because these pedestrians could easily be struck by a car.
Later, when I asked James Curbeam, 70, about his opinion on the lack of sidewalks, he replied, “It makes no sense that there are no sidewalks for children, walking home from school to walk on.”
Briana Gilchrist, 15, is one of those students. Gilchrist attends Sparrows Point High.
“I walk home from school every day," she said. "I find it annoying and dangerous to walk on these ragged paths.”
Many local residents believe Edgemere is a fairly nice community.
“After 17 years of living here I have found this to be a settled neighborhood, in which people are friendly and helpful," Donald Green Jr., 49, said. "It’s safe here.”
Many residents perceive it as a safe environment to walk, jog, and bicycle.
“Even though I don’t jog, I have noticed that others are comfortable with exercising in the area,” Green said.
These pleasurable activities are great ways to stay in shape, enjoy the weather, and get to desired destinations while experiencing the neighborhood in a more natural way. However, despite the delight pedestrians and bicyclists often receive in this experience, they are hindered by the lack of appropriate sidewalks.
Without sidewalks, many are more likely to stay indoors instead of getting fresh air and meeting fellow neighbors.
“There are many stores in walking distance but I always feel the need to drive my car because I fear for my safety when walking directly in the street,” Angela Green said.
Studies show that neighborhoods with active members are less likely to have encounters with burglars. More neighbors on sidewalks equals more eye witnesses.
Students and fitness buffs are not the only ones that endure the obstacles presented by these paths. I have occasionally encountered an elderly man in a scooter chair-type of vehicle riding from the St. Luke's Place, on Lodge Farm Road, all the way up through Lincoln Ave.
There are sidewalks coming up from St. Luke’s Place but they end abruptly, affecting this man’s travel. He must ease off the sidewalks onto the road; he most likely doesn’t ride his scooter chair on the pathways because they are too uneven for safe travel.
Whenever I see him riding on the road, cars have to be diligent when riding around him; one unsafe car could cause a disastrous event. I was unable to get in contact with this man, but I can assume that he would agree it is frightening to know that a disabled elderly individual could easily be struck by a car, just because of the lack of sidewalks.
The absence of sidewalks is not only a safety issue, but also diminishes the appearance of our neighborhood.
“Sidewalks make the town look more suburban and nice,” Delores Curbeam, 70, said.
Delores is correct; building sidewalks will make the community more “suburban”, which will encourage people to venture outside and be active.
Many potential house buyers want to buy homes in neighborhoods that are connected by suitable sidewalks, according to associate real estate broker Kelly Snow.
This community issue affects all of us. Even if you don’t walk, ride your bike or jog down these pathways, there is a good chance that you know someone or they know someone that does.
Concerning the safety of the community, James Curbeam believes “the production of sidewalks and proper drainage” could alleviate this safety issue.
I believe if we stick together as a community and fight for the construction of these sidewalks we can get it done.
According to walkinginfo.org, “elected officials will be more willing and likely to support a sidewalk project that has wide support from the community.”
Editor's Note: Dundalk Patch received this essay from Alysia Green, who wrote the essay for a class at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, a magnet high school in Towson.
Submissions from the community, and particularly students, are welcome. Send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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