Unblock the walk!
People who walk in Atlanta face far too many obstacles. Closed sidewalks in construction zones, overgrown shrubs and road work signs that block sidewalks are just a few.
The Atlanta Code calls on Public Works to issue permits that allow people to close sidewalks only as a last resort. Yet all too often, it allows developers to close sidewalks completely, simply because a sidewalk exists on the other side of the street.
Where sidewalks are closed, many people cross midblock or walk in the street. Public Works should operate our streets for the way people really behave, not the way they wish we would.
Road work signs that block sidewalks or put people at risk of whacking their heads are common in Atlanta. The signs also violate federal transportation guidelines and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
We can’t do this alone. If you see signs that block the sidewalk in the City of Atlanta, snap a photo and write down the address. After that, call 311 to report the hazard.
Even more important, contact your City Council representatives and ask them to require Public Works to monitor signs and fine violators.
Set trees and shrubs far enough back from sidewalks.
The best trees for road frontage areas include crape myrtles, dogwoods, maples, redbuds and service berries.
Trees to avoid: fruit and nut trees, mulberries and oaks. Setting trees back from the sidewalks helps prevent bulging roots and uplifted pavement. Learn more at Athens-Clark County’s Technical Guide to Tree Conservation.
Few things are more annoying to people who walk than overgrown shrubs that force them to walk in the street. If people you know are about to plant trees or shrubs near a sidewalk, ask them to consider how big they’ll be decades later.
Routine pruning is essential.
If you encounter overgrown shrubs, especially prickly ones, ask neighbors to trim them. Likewise for tree limbs that intrude into the sidewalk area.
The Americans with Disability Act — and common courtesy –call for at least 7 feet of vertical clear space above sidewalks. Anything below that puts people at risk of whacking their head.
If needed, do it yourself. Anything intruding into sidewalk space is considered public property. If you can’t get your neighbors to prune overgrown trees or shrubs, have at it.