I noticed it last month: a rare burst of January roadwork along the stretch of Yanceyville Street that I drive almost every day. Except the orange cones and work trucks seemed clustered at the periphery of the street, and after a few days it became clear that Yanceyville Street, one of the busiest pedestrian thoroughfares in the city, was finally getting sidewalks.
I have been writing about this for years — ever since I moved to the neighborhood in 2003, and shortly thereafter almost ran over a pedestrian clinging to the fringe of the road, bereft as it was of sidewalks — and, it should be noted, crosswalks, pedestrian signals or enticements of any kind to that simplest and most affordable mode of transportation: shoe leather.
And yet there are plenty of bus stops along Yanceyville, and well-worn paths in the roadside dirt between low-income housing developments and the strip mall with the taqueria, budget grocery, laundromat and furniture-rental place behind a pockmarked parking lot. Over the years I have seen perhaps four dozen young mothers pushing strollers along the curbside gutters of Yanceyville Street, at least a hundred children and an old man who used to cross by Cone Boulevard every day in an excruciatingly slow motorized wheelchair — until he got hit by a car, revealed to me in one of the police reports that get sent to my inbox every day.
I’ve almost hit people a score of times — you might be amazed how many people walk too close to traffic wearing black clothing. And every time, my heart pounding and my hands gripping the wheel a little tighter, I lament the gross lack of sidewalks on Yanceyville.
But hey! Here come the sidewalks, starting near Revolution Mill and, so far, running all the way north to Cone, filling in many of the pedestrian gaps I clocked back in 2015, for a longform cover piece.
I’m not taking credit, mind you — emphasis on the Yanceyville pedestrian corridor has much more to do with the large sums of money being dumped upon the mills down that way than it does one angry man with a weekly column and an axe to grind.
I’m just happy for the upgrade, and that my neighbors won’t be taking their lives into their hands when they go to the laundromat.