Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I saw this today as I was out this afternoon. One of the best ordinances the planning office and the Bentonville City Council ever adopted was a sidewalk ordinance. Starting several years ago (I'll find out when), all developers are now required to build sidewalks in new residential developments along with curbs and gutters. I'm not sure about the particulars, like, whether or not the law applies only to residential developments or not. I have a good, uh..source that can fill me in on the details later.

Sometimes, the results look pretty hilarious. This subdivision of a plethora of look-a-like houses is separated from Bentonville proper by Interstate 540 and 4 lanes of 75 MPH traffic. Since the intelligent developers who designed this "neighborhood" basically made it only accessible by car, what point would there be in allowing anyone to leave the compound except by car.

Those brave enough to step 50 feet outside of the neighborhood are met with a friendly chain-link fence. "Go back, my friend, your perambulatory kind are not wanted here."

As the more enlightened types in the Bentonville planning office will tell you, getting the sidewalks are only half of the equation. Like Jane Jacobs said, you must have "sidewalks with meaningful destinations." The sidewalk on our street directly connects to a supermarket, the square, the trail system, the (coming soon) library, the bank, and numerous other things we use on a daily basis. It's shaded, is separated by a small buffer from the street, and is lined with interesting homes and friendly people to see.

While we still drive (and enjoy) our McCar, we're not punished when we leave the safe McConfines of our McNeighborhood by a an immediate end to our walk with a chain-link McFence.