GreenTech Homes does a fantastic job of building modern, suburban homes in Chattanooga’s dense urban spaces. They initially developed my Southside neighborhood’s re-development, and they continue to develop every available square inch to this day. Building in such close quarters also means GreenTech Homes does a fantastic job of blocking the sidewalks with mountains of construction equipment and even a portable toilet.
To be fair, construction companies showing total disregard for pedestrians seems to be the norm in Chattanooga for some reason. Whether it’s blocking bike lanes or closing entire blocks of sidewalks for months at a time, this city’s struggle to build without blocking is a curious one. So I don’t want to seem like I’m singling out GreenTech for scorn, when they’re merely a symptom of the larger pedestrian-phobic attitudes here in Chattanooga. This just happens to be a particular instance of pedphobia that’s impacted my life.
You see, my oldest son (Salinger) has developed a discomfort with stepping off curbs. I wouldn’t describe it as a full-blown phobia yet, but let’s just say curb cuts and ramps make mommy’s life much easier. So having to step off the curb only to have to step right back onto the same curb only a few feet later is a serious inconvenience in both my life and Salinger’s.
None of this would matter as much as it does if there was a sidewalk on the other side of the street, but unfortunately there isn’t. It’s just an empty lot where possibly dangerous teenagers congregate to ride skateboards and probably do drugs. So for walkers, joggers, strollers, wheelchairers or curb-sensitives like my son, the only choice you have is to walk in the street and risk being flattened by oncoming traffic.
The experience is as terrifying as it is unnecessary. In America’s flagship cities like Seattle or Brooklyn, such cavalier blocking of sidewalks wouldn’t be tolerated. As Chattanooga continues to climb the ladder or urban respectability, hopefully its attitude towards pedestrians will evolve.