In the past two days, I’ve made some odd short walks. They took place along the same street, Broad Ripple Avenue.
On Wednesday, the walk started at Marsh near Keystone Avenue. I was dropped off by my wife who then went on to my friends house, which is located to the north west of the Marsh on Burlington Avenue. I decided to meet her there after buying some essential items. The stores in the strip malls I passed along the way are decent (even if they are not open very late), but the strip malls themselves are simply a couple of concrete boxes. Then, going north on Burlington, the sidewalk stops for a block on both sides. On the immediate right side of the street, there’s a drainage ditch that a person who isn’t paying attention can fall in to. The developers of this addition had no premonition of walking to the stores. I’m guessing the addition was built first, and the stores were added later. Still, placing a residential street near an important corridor without installing sidewalks at the entry point is telling. Then, at the next intersection the sidewalks restart.
Last night, the walk started at the Kroger on Guilford Avenue, where I had to stop to pick up some milk. Immediately upon entering the parking lot, there was a car being towed. This made me nervous, as I also had to walk to Hot Box Pizza to pick up some breadsticks (and if you don’t know about them, get them tonight if you can). Parking is at a premium, and there were no other free spots available for a quick stop, so I took my chances. The street on a Thursday night was alive. I’m not a big fan of most of the bars along Broad Ripple Avenue, especially on a weekend, but there was still this sense of being in a particular place where things were happening. And fortunately, my car was still there when I got back to it.
The main (and sad) conclusion that I draw from these two walks is that the first walk is a lot more common in this city than the second one, especially beyond the old city limits. The tired argument against urbanism and density is that not everyone wants to live in New York City. However, there are few options for the people who do actually want to live in a city or even a neighborhood, while there are countless ones for people who want to live a suburban lifestyle. It’s a major reason I believe there’s a pent-up demand for neighborhood and mixed use development, and that steps the city takes to improve it’s infrastructure could pay off big time.