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Sidewalks

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Lake Forest is Alabama’s largest subdivision with over 3,000 homes, more than 50 miles of pavement, and is located in the heart of Daphne, Alabama (Lake Forest Property Owner’s Association, 2014). Lake Forest is a community consisting of many roads that intermingle and connect to one another. When it was first built, it was designed to house the most people (White, R., personal communication, September 19, 2014). It has accommodations and services for various different activities throughout its community. Not only is Lake Forest located in the middle of a 27-hole golf course, but it also has 3 swimming pools, 4 tennis courts, a lake to fish in and boat on, a marina, stables for horses, a yacht club, a restaurant, and 3 playgrounds; it is also home to multiple different clubs and organizations such as a community women’s club, a garden club, a ladies and men’s golf association, senior couple’s golf association, a swim team, and a tennis association (Lake Forest Property Owner’s Association, 2014). Lake Forest houses a variety of different things to accommodate the majority of its residents, however, it is missing one obvious thing: a sidewalk. The Lake Forest Subdivision needs a sidewalk in its community to not only help to eliminate safety issues, increase physical activity, and to aid in reducing health issues, but to also connect its residents to the different amenities and also to one another.
Reducing different safety issues on the roads in Lake Forest could be accomplished by adding a sidewalk throughout its community. Contrary to many residents’ beliefs, having a sidewalk can help to reduce crime within a neighborhood by yielding more “eyes on the streets” (Federal Highway Administration Safety, 2014). If a criminal commits a crime, there is a high chance that he will be seen. No criminal wants to be caught in the act. According to Moeur (2012) a criminal is deterred by the presence of sidewalks. Sidewalks also provide a way to separate the pedestrians from vehicle traffic (Safety benefits of walkways, sidewalks, and paved shoulders, 2010). Sidewalks give pedestrians a designated path. When they have a designated path, it is highly likely that this will keep them out of the streets when walking, jogging or riding their bikes. According to Larry, (n.d.) more than 75,000 Americans have been killed over the past 15 years in pedestrian versus vehicle collisions. That is an average of 5,000 deaths per year. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if a safer option for pedestrians had been provided. In 2011, 14 year old Daniel Dinardi lost his life at the north entrance to Lake Forest when he was riding his bike home from a summer school program (Henderson, 2014). He had no safe place to ride his bike when he was struck by a garbage truck (Henderson, 2014). No one was found to be at fault. A sidewalk could have prevented this death. The risk of accidents like this, reduce drastically when pedestrians have a sidewalk to use (Larry, n.d.). Sidewalks make paths more accessible and easier to use by eliminating tripping hazards and keeping pedestrians in a certain area and out of the roads (Safety benefits of walkways, sidewalks, and paved shoulders, 2010). The average speed limit in Lake Forest is 35 miles per hour. According to Radarsign (2012), a pedestrian only has an approximated 25% chance of surviving if they were to be struck by a vehicle traveling at the suggested speed limit. The statistics of this are not only astonishing but are almost unbelievable. It does not take a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed to hit a pedestrian and cause fatal, irreversible damage. Many residents feel that a sidewalk would not help to keep pedestrians any safer (White, R., personal communication, September 19, 2014). Along with increasing a pedestrian’s safety, sidewalks help in other ways as well. Sidewalks also provide a means for Lake Forest’s residents to increase their physical activity.
Build them and they will come. By having things like a sidewalk throughout a community, the number of trips made by walking automatically increases (Safety benefits of walkways, sidewalks, and paved shoulders, 2010). If a sidewalk is built, people will use it (Rigby, 2014). People have gym memberships, but tend to be inconvenienced by them. It seems to be progressively a hassle to get in a vehicle and drive to a gym so less people take advantage of their memberships. Having a sidewalk right in front of their door reduces this inconvenience. This is called recreational walking and is one of the easiest and most convenient ways for people to get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day accomplished (Safety benefits of walkways, sidewalks, and paved shoulders, 2010). However, residents feel that a sidewalk will not help to increase physical activity (White, R., personal communication, September 19, 2014). Increasing physical activity among people is the key in helping to reduce numerous health risks.
Nevertheless, many health issues can be avoided in life, if people would just take a few minutes out of their day to walk (Larry, n.d.). It is one of the easiest exercises to do. It is estimated that 32% of American children are overweight (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009), and an estimated 61% percent of adults can be classified as overweight according to Wilkinson, et al. (2002). Not being physically active and being overweight is the second highest contribution to mortality (Wilkinson, et al., 2002). Having a sidewalk can decrease the death rate that is attributed to these factors. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2009) recommends only 60 minutes per day of physical activity for children and 30 minutes per adult per day. With such small numbers, it is hard to believe that not many people engage in such a little amount of physical activity a day. Building a sidewalk greatly reduces the risks of “obesity, some cancers, heart disease and diabetes” (Larry, n.d.). According to Wilkinson, et al. (2002), physical activity can improve cholesterol levels, keep high blood pressure under control, release and manage stress, boost energy levels, improve muscle strength, help to maintain a good quality of life, assist in establishing healthy habits in our youth, aid in reducing anxiety and depression, and succors in preventing bone loss. According to White (personal communication, September 19, 2014) residents do not see the link between having a sidewalk and the decrease in health issues. With all of these benefits, still, Americans are at record highs for inactive and overweight individuals. Several benefits come from a neighborhood that has sidewalks. In a neighborhood as large as Lake Forest, a sidewalk would be ideal to connect all of the facilities and services to one another, and also to the schools that are located merely a half mile outside of two of the entrances to the subdivision. It would help to promote physical activity among its residents, assist in keeping its pedestrians safe and reduce health risks like obesity, diabetes, some cancers and high blood pressure, just to name a few. Residents in Lake Forest had the opportunity in 2007 to add a sidewalk to its neighborhood. According to Overstreet, (2007) two grants were obtained to do just that. However, residents felt that a sidewalk would increase crime, would not help to keep pedestrians safe and would be an eyesore to the community (White, R., personal communication, September 19, 2014). Perhaps, this needs to be readdressed. With all of the facts laid out, it is easy to see why a sidewalk is needed within the Lake Forest subdivision. Move forward with plans to connect Lake Forest. Sidewalks: they just make sense.

References
American Academy of Pediatrics, (2009). The Built Environment: Designing Communities to Promote Physical Activity in Children. Pediatrics volume 123(6) 1591 -1598 (doi: 10.1542). Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/123/6/1591.long#cited-by
Federal Highway Administration Safety. (2014). A resident’s guide for creating safe and walkable communities. Retrieved from http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_cmnity/ped_walkguide/resource7.cfm
Henderson, R. (2011, June 23). 14-year-old boy on bicycle run over by waste management garbage truck in daphne. Mobile Press Register. Retrieved from http://blog.al.com/live/2011/06/14-year-old_on_bicycle_run_ove.html
Lake Forest Property Owner’s Association. (2014). Why lake forest. Retrieved from http://www.lakeforestpoa.org/lakeforestpoa/content/view_c.php?s_id=1914294
Larry, C. (n.d). Communities try to prevent pedestrian traffic deaths. USA Today. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/ehost/detail/detail?sid=6efede6b-39a7-4781-bb46-bfbeea90cd53%40sessionmgr4001&vid=1&hid=4109&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=J0E074672197509
Moeur, R. (2012). Perils for pedestrians. Retrieved from http://www.pedestrians.org/retrofit.htm
Overstreet, J. (2007, October 13). Grants sought for city sidewalks. Gulf Coast News Today. Retrieved from http://www.gulfcoastnewstoday.com/area_news/article_f6f3769c-0c31-5b70-a27c-423e82e16ad9.html

Radarsign. (2014). Radar speed signs. Retrieved from http://www.radarsign.com/
Rigby, R. (2014, February 12). Mobile sidewalks stretch from here to st. louis, but coastal alabama residents still find availability lacking. Mobile Press Register. Retrieved from http://blog.al.com/live/2014/02/mobile_sidewalks_stretch_from.html
Safety benefits of walkways, sidewalks, and paved shoulders [electronic resource]. (2010). [Washington, D.C.]: U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, [2010]. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=2&sid=7acbf45f-d33a-486d-a8a8-6ff1642346ed%40sessionmgr113&hid=119&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=edsgpr&AN=gprocn756922649
Wilkinson, Eddy, Burgess, MacFadden, (2002). Increasing physical activity through community design. [Full version]. Retrieved from http://www.bikewalk.org/pdfs/IPA_full.pdf

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