Scenes from the “Sidewalks for Safety” march

On Saturday, May 22, over 200 people marched Tunnel Road’s “Goat Trail” in a demonstration intended to rally city leaders to build more sidewalks in east Asheville. The march highlighted a mile-long stretch of worn grass and rocky paths along the road where many veterans walk each day between the Veterans Restoration Quarters and the VA Medical Center.

Chanting “we need sidewalks” as they marched, the group was led by several veterans who said their daily walk between the ABCCM quarters and the hospital isn’t safe.

“I don’t like walking on the trail because it’s too narrow and there’s rocks. You could slip in the creek or the road,” said Darryl Sparrow, who moved to the quarters from Bryson City six months ago. “Hopefully it won’t take someone getting hurt or killed before they do something. I’ve had close calls myself.”

Billy Hopkins, who also lives at the quarters, agreed.

“The grass is slippery, and there’s snakes,” he said. “It’s a safety issue. The DOT needs to give it a close look.”

Getting the NC DOT to give the road a closer look is also the hope of organizers from local homeowners associations, who have been lobbying city officials to make building sidewalks in the area a higher priority. At their “Sidewalk Summit” in April, the Sidewalks for Safety group released studies showing that east Asheville has only 7 percent of the city’s sidewalks, while north Asheville has 42 percent, West Asheville has 28 percent, and south Asheville has 23 percent.

“28805 has always been the red hen compared to West Asheville and north Asheville,” said Sona Merlin, an east Asheville resident and member the of Bull Mountain Home Owners Association.  “But we’re hip here in the 805 too, and it’s inspiring to see this many people out here. I hope this helps east Asheville have a sense of community.”

Sparrow also said he was inspired by the turnout, noting that new sidewalks wouldn’t just benefit veterans. “This is something for the whole community—all the neighborhoods around here could use more sidewalks.”

For further background on the march and to see a video of the “Goat Trail,” check out Xpress’ May 21 blog post.

Here’s a photo gallery:

Photos by Jake Frankel

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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7 thoughts on “Scenes from the “Sidewalks for Safety” march

  1. Sonja

    Another street on the east side that needs sidewalks is Riceville Rd. With the many apartments along Riceville Rd. it’s a sad state of affairs that there are no sidewalks so people can safely walk to Ingle’s for groceries, etc. Many of the people who could use the sidewalks are either elderly or parents with young children. I have seen mothers walking out in the road with strollers because there is no way you can push a stroller on the bumpy, hilly terrain. It’s a disgrace!! I travel Riceville Rd. all the time from my home in Botany Woods and see people struggling to walk to the store all the time.

  2. Viking

    Nice with the ‘goat trail’ reference. I live in that area and am a vet. Better also is the linking up of Oteen and the BRP.

    May be good for business too.

  3. Cal

    The old saying ‘Walk a Mile in his shoes’ fits here. Walk the precariously perched ‘goat paths’ along Tunnel Rd. which puts the walker within inches of traffic moving at 45+mph to understand the threat to pedestrian safety. Walking is the only mode of travel available for these Vets and many others. Walking is also good for the health of our environment and community. Hopefully the followup conversations will result in a way to make sidewalks and crosswalks along Tunnel Rd. happen. Its a worthwhile investment.

  4. Mysterylogger

    Asheville has to pick Rust art, bus art and other non-sense vs Practical Sidewalks . . . .

    Sorry Sidewalks Fads and same ol same ol will always win.

  5. Fyffe Aschenbrenner

    The Walk For Sidewalks was an impressive show of how people in East Asheville are feeling about having a safe place to walk in their neighborhoods.

    Sidewalks allow for safety but also for people to get out and move their bodies! In a time when obesity threatens a huge portion of the American population, I think walking is part of the answer!

    Can you imagine walking along and meeting someone or saying hello to a neighbor? Could we call this “community”?
    More walking, less car use, less pollution…
    What do we want? SIDEWALKS! When do we want ’em? NOW!

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