We can’t help but wonder just where those people assigned to judge the walkability of the city of Schenectady went to reach their conclusion that the city is among the most 100 walkable in America. Was this some kind of a joke?
While Schenectady has several decent parks and plenty of interesting neighborhoods and commercial areas — some of the key criteria reportedly used by the American Podiatric Medical Association and Prevention.com — the city’s sidewalks are a mess.
There’s so much heaved and broken pavement; asphalt spread atop concrete; and, during the (long) winters, snow and ice, that getting anywhere on Schenectady’s sidewalks is almost always a challenge. For someone in a wheelchair, or pushing a baby carriage, it’s hard to imagine its being anything but impossible.
Slowly but surely, the city has been redoing its sidewalks — an expensive proposition, to be sure — but this has typically been done in conjunction with the street-paving program rather than according to need. At the rate the city has been progressing, though, it will be decades before there’s a noticeable impact on the problem.
While sidewalks are public property, it is the adjacent property owner’s legal obligation to see that they’re passable. The city simply doesn’t bother enforcing this law — few cities do — whether for broken pavement or snow and ice.
If it wants to be a truly walkable city — which would be wonderful — it needs to do a better job policing the condition of its sidewalks. Force the owners of the worst offenders to make the necessary repairs or do the necessary shoveling. Assist them, if necessary, with programs that provide labor if the owner pays for materials. Sidewalk improvement should be no less of a priority for the city as finishing the bike-hike path.