The other day I was watching my neighbour teaching her son some rules for being on the sidewalk, and it brought to mind a rhyme learned many years ago:
Two’s company, three’s a crowd,
Four abreast on the sidewalk is not allowed!
The City of Hamilton says that sidewalks are for pedestrians, but what exactly is a pedestrian?
I was taught that a pedestrian was anyone walking on two feet. The definition the City now uses includes anyone on foot, using a walker, manual wheelchair, motorized wheelchair or scooter. Baby strollers and bundle buggies are also allowed. Our sidewalks have become crowded, and at times even dangerous places to walk.
Most sidewalks in Hamilton are 1.5 metres wide; the City is attempting to make new ones 2 metres wide where possible. This is certainly a positive move forward, as in many areas the sidewalks have reached or exceeded their maximum capacity.
We have all seen pedestrians on foot forced onto the roadway, either by motorized vehicles cutting across their path or by large groups of people walking abreast and occupying all the available sidewalk space.
As society is now encouraging people to use their cars less, for reasons of both the environment and personal fitness and health, I think it is time to consider giving pedestrians on foot the right of way on sidewalks. This simple courtesy of giving way to those on two feet will make being out and about on City streets a safer, more pleasant, experience for all of us, and will help Hamilton on its journey towards becoming an Age-Friendly city.
Penelope Petrie is a member of the Board of Directors for the Hamilton Council on Aging.