I was recently walking down the sidewalk on the north side of John Street behind the station wagon that delivers the campus mail. The vehicle was driving on the sidewalk because of the frequent stops at the various quad buildings and houses on the way. This sidewalk is not wide enough to fit the car; it was driving with two tires in the dirt on each side.
As a result of each daily trip down this path, the sides have become heavily rutted and muddy. Very nearby, the walkway from Downer to Sage is even worse, due to use by the security vehicle. Locations where vehicles have eroded the earth exist all over the Lawrence campus. One of the worst contributors are our winter snowplows. The clearing of snow from many sidewalks by oversized plows results in an annual proliferation of bare dirt.
Each spring, when the grass begins to grow again, Lawrence makes a valiant effort to replant these eyesores. It is only natural to beautify the campus in time for graduation. Through seeding, fertilization, and roping off, grass is motivated to grow again.
Because grass lined pathways seem to be highly valued at Lawrence, it is an exercise in shooting ourselves in the foot to be simultaneously causing the problem and trying to fix it. Smarter use of vehicles could help reduce the amount of effort necessary to replant the grass, saving time and money. Additionally, the grass that grows year after year looks better and grows fuller.
The pathways that must be cleared should be plowed using a properly sized instrument. Caution should be used not to carelessly cut corners. Our security and mail vehicles could use streets rather than sidewalks whenever possible. The John Street case is a perfect example – we could pay the driver for the extra time spent walking the extra distance to the houses from the street. When considering the costs of replanting the grass, this would be worthwhile. Another solution would be using a smaller vehicle, such as a golf cart, to deliver the mail.
There are many solutions readily available to greatly reduce the unwanted consequences of poor vehicle use on our campus. These consequences are evidently a problem, as each year we attempt to cover them up. I encourage Lawrence to be sensible and simply not cause them to begin with.Peter Bennett