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Unacceptable practices

Oct 08,2022 - Last updated at Oct 08,2022

Walking is one of the best sports for young and old people alike, but especially for the latter.  It is a pressing psychological and physical necessity for thousands upon thousands of people who work in our public and private institutions and spend most of their time sitting.

A sedentary life can be a killer.

The inhabitants of our rural and desert areas are luckier for they have easy access, through work or pleasure, to wider spaces in which they roam at ease. And lucky are those who own farms and make use of them, and those whose work necessitates constant physical activity.

Inhabitants of our urban centres, by contrast, are less fortunate, particularly those who have humble incomes and live in apartments, with little or no access to nearby gardens or parks and who cannot afford the cost of membership in sports clubs or gyms.

What do these do, by way of physical activity?

Little, other than walking on neighbourhood sidewalks; which is, in principle, a good option.

Walking on sidewalks can do the trick, enabling us to walk, breathe some fresh air, cleanse our psyches, and burn calories.

Of course, some of our roads lack sidewalks in the first place, forcing a person to either walk in the street and thus face real danger from vehicles, or wade in mud in winter or dust in the summer.

Overall, however, many of our roads do have sidewalks, some of which are in super shape.

There are, nonetheless, three main problems with sidewalks, regardless of their quality.

The first, which many have tackled before, refers to sidewalks that are “occupied”, literally speaking, by trees which are either left without pruning or are of the type that expands horizontally and not vertically.

Some homeowners seem to view the sidewalk as an extension of their gardens.

There are, of course, trees on sidewalks which do not interfere with walking; some are even extremely pleasant to walk under, providing us with shade in summer and protecting us from drizzles in winter. Others are small and beautiful and add an aesthetic dimension to the sidewalk.

The problem is with those trees that block the sidewalks and force pedestrians to use the street instead.

The second problem has to do with some homeowners parking their cars in the middle of the sidewalk instead of the parking lot inside the villa or the apartment building. This, in fact, is a bad habit which we have started to witness more frequently recently.

In some cases, one finds the car parked outside the vacant parking lot area, on the sidewalk. The message conveyed here by the car owner is: I own the sidewalk.

The third problem pertains to homeowners who block the side of the street surrounding their building, to prevent cars from parking in the street adjacent to their home. They do this with rocks, chains, cement blocks, etc. In some cases, they fence off the whole area preventing not only cars from parking legally in the street but also pedestrians from using the sidewalk.

One is not talking here about ministries or embassies which may have a logic behind what they do, but ordinary homeowners who have simply decided that the sidewalks and the streets adjacent to their homes also belong to them.

Is this acceptable? Can this be tolerated?

No.

First of all, this is part and parcel of the culture of selfishness plaguing our society; and second of all, this is illegal and unlawful.

It is time these three disturbing phenomena are addressed effectively, to enable people, especially those who can afford nothing but walking on the sidewalk, to do so comfortably and safely.

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