In my town and the adjoining one, local councils are debating the merits of installing sidewalks on one of the busiest roads in their city. The residents are opposed, as they would incur not only the initial cost of assessment but also must maintain (i.e., shovel!) the walks going forward. But pretty much everyone else is in favor, realizing that a vibrant neighborhood involves walking, and doing so on sidewalks is infinitely safer than using the road.

I shook my head when I read the comment of one resident: “We don’t ever see people walking along the side of the road or anything like that.” Of course, you don’t. The street in question is a major thoroughfare with 35mph speeds and constant traffic. You would literally be risking your life.

The debate underscores a fundamental difference in creating change: helping people understand what could be vs. dwelling only on what is. The proponents need to paint a picture of what benefits sidewalks could provide to the greater community and what other areas look like that have such amenities in place. No one walked in my development either, until the sidewalks connected to the park and other neighborhoods, and now the walkways are bustling with kids, bikes, strollers and dogs. Let those who can envision the future have a voice.

Change always comes with a cost, and those impacted will rightfully point out this negative aspect. Your job is not to dispute this, rather to make the possibilities so appealing that the decision to move ahead becomes obvious.

Source: Residents speak out against JFK sidewalks plan by John Kruse in the Telegraph Herald June 9, 2021, p. 1A.

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