Where the sidewalk ends

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Is it the end of the sidewalk, or just the beginning?

by Brian Clarey

The sidewalk ends at a northern terminus at the southeast corner of Yanceyville Street and Lees Chapel Road, in a dead stop at an unspectacular tangle of wild saplings and hay straw.

Here where Pisgah Church Road turns into Lees Chapel, Yanceyville runs north past the cluster of lakes — Brandt, Higgins, Jeannette and Townsend — that define the Greensboro’s boundary and the tony neighborhoods that surround them. There are no sidewalks on Yanceyville north of this intersection.

To the south, Yanceyville Street passes low-income housing, new development, old mill neighborhoods and the ancient industrial district on its way downtown.

It’s a boundary of sorts, here where the sidewalk ends: the place where east Greensboro meets north Greensboro.

It’s a well-traveled intersection, with an average of 12,300 cars or so passing through each day at the last count date in 2008. The department of transportation does not keep count of the pedestrians who use this corner.

Often a vagrant occupies the southwest corner, flying a sign with his tale of woe for the many passing motorists. There’s a convenience store at the northwest corner that trucks mostly in beer, ice and bait. And, at the southeast corner, where the sidewalk ends, a bus-stop sign stands in the late-morning sun.

On Greensboro’s Yanceyville Street between Lees Chapel Road and Wendover Avenue, pedestrians often must make do with a dirt path in lieu of sidewalks.
On Greensboro’s Yanceyville Street between Lees Chapel Road and Wendover Avenue, pedestrians often must make do with a dirt path in lieu of sidewalks.

It is here, at 10:21 a.m., that I find D’Velle Bass, waiting for the No. 15 inbound bus that will get to downtown Greensboro just in time for his lunch shift at Koshary.

I tell him what I’m doing out there under the bright sun in the middle of the morning, and why I’m doing it. He smiles and nods his approval.

“It’s dangerous out here,” he says.

He’s not talking about street crime or B&E. The real danger here is to pedestrians. Just six months ago, two days before Christmas 2014 at 1 p.m., Jeffrey Phillips was hit by a Saturn while sprinting north across five lanes of Lees Chapel to the convenience store. There is no crosswalk on the west side of Yanceyville, and no sidewalks at all to the north.

For guys like Bass, this is where the sidewalk begins: this inauspicious strip that runs south from the bus stop on the east side of the street perhaps 150 yards before ending abruptly like a bad joke at the Foxworth Condominiums, a Greensboro Housing Authority development.

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