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Somebody recently looked at me funny when I said that I lived in a neighborhood which wasn't safe for me to let the kids play out front unsupervised. Its not that I'm afraid of them being snatched or anything.

Its the people in cars.

Its a 25 MPH zoned residential street. 

People fly though at 40+

I like what this woman wrote

Sidewalks a benefit of Bangor


Sidewalks a benefit of Bangor

By Sarah Smiley
Special to the NEWS

One of the first things we noticed and loved about Bangor was the sidewalks shaded with trees.

We didn’t have sidewalks in Florida, and their absence made it both hot and inconvenient for our young children to play outside. Instead, they were relegated to the backyard, which was fully enclosed by the surrounding yards’ 6-foot privacy fences. We rarely saw our neighbors. When one of the boys’ baseballs disappeared behind the fence, someone would throw it back over, and we’d shout, “thank you” through the cracks in the wood. I knew only one of our neighbors well.

Last July, when I came to Bangor from Florida to search for a house, I commented again and again (until I’m sure our Realtor was sick of hearing it) about the way people here congregate on the sidewalks. My mom, who was with me, said it reminded her of neighborhoods from the 1950s, where you didn’t need a pass code to get into your friend’s gated community and calling the kids home for dinner was as easy as opening the front door and shouting their names.

Indeed, one year later, our boys enjoy the sidewalk in front of our house from morning until night. They run through multiple backyards, never meeting a blockade of privacy fences. I can think of 12 neighbors offhand whom I know well and who know my boys’ names and where to send them if they get into trouble. On most nights, after Dustin gets home from work, he and I stand in the yard and watch our boys ride their bikes up and down the sidewalk.

The only thing I haven’t loved about our neighborhood is that people drive too fast through it. We don’t live on a main street. Nor do we live on a busy street. Ours is a residential street with shade trees on either side and no lines to mark the lanes. Still, people use it as a shortcut between other, busier routes. Although the posted speed limit is 25 mph, I’m certain that many drivers are going faster. Some are probably pushing 40-50 mph.

I mistakenly believed that drivers would notice the recent influx of children on our street (there are several other new neighbors with children) and make a mental note to slow down in the future. I especially thought people would be cautious when they saw plastic toys and bikes strewn across the grass. But no, drivers fly down the road as if they are on the highway.

Then a curious and totally unexpected thing happened. People started blaming me for having my children outside and on the sidewalk. A few drivers actually stopped and got out of their car to complain.

“Children shouldn’t play so close to the road,” they said.

“On a sidewalk in a residential neighborhood?” I asked sarcastically. We don’t live on Union or Hammond streets, after all.

“Someone is going to get killed,” another person said. “We have to slam on our brakes when we see your children on the sidewalk.”

If you have to slam on your brakes, perhaps you are going too fast. A car that is cautiously driving the speed limit through a residential area doesn’t need to slam on the brakes. You brake suddenly when something unexpected — a moose or a squirrel — crosses your path. Children playing in a neighborhood shouldn’t be a surprise.

After so many scowls and secondhand complaints, I got the feeling that drivers value their need to move fast over my children’s desire to have a childhood spent playing outside in a safe neighborhood. If I would just keep my kids locked up inside, these people could travel as they please and not have to worry about killing a child.

Thirty years ago, my husband was, in fact, run over by a car, so we know the dangers. Our boys do, too. They know what happened to their dad, but we won’t shelter and coddle them. Keeping them inside all day is out of the question. They are boys who need to run and play, which is why we chose a residential road with sidewalks.

All we can do is give our boys the skills and lessons they need to stay safe. But they are still young and immature, so I can’t guarantee that they won’t chase a ball across the street or fall off their bike and land in the road. I can teach them, but until they are grown, I can’t count on them to use their head 100 percent of the time.

I had hoped to count on the adults to drive safely 100 percent of the time. Because one thing I can guarantee is that our children’s lives are worth more than whatever made you take a shortcut and speed in the first place.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:49 am (UTC)
Ask the city council to put in speed bumps?
Jul. 23rd, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
I've thought of that...I'm afraid to find out how long it would take.
Jul. 23rd, 2009 05:37 am (UTC)
It won't get any shorter by waiting to find out.
Jul. 22nd, 2009 07:09 am (UTC)
I don't understand why people can't just go a little slower. :( I creep through our neighborhood because there are TONS of children playing ball in the street because their yards are so tiny (and apparently their parents are too lazy to take them to the park two blocks away).

I also can't believe the gall of people who speed near children complaining to the parents! I would have turned the hose on the bastards.
Aug. 4th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I mentioned speed bumps, too. You're probably right that it would take a while, but it doesn't hurt to look into it. As I've said before, Sacramento has a bunch of speed bumbs. Not so many in my neighborhood, but the roads are windy enough that not a lot of people use them unless they have to, and they go pretty slow. still, I wish the kids here would be a little more cautious. they play in the street and often leave large play items like hula hoops and bikes in the street for cars to go around. I think we'll just roll over them next time. The toys, not the kids.

One boy left his bike on our yard one too many times and David pt it in our garage over night. The next day he brought it back and the boy's dad was thankful. His mom was tearing him up for leaving his bike on the street and the dad decided not to stop her just yet.
Aug. 4th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
For some reason, I'm getting a tiny little text box and wasn't able to really preview for grammar.
Aug. 4th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
Go Dad!

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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