The Current newspapers are built to channel gripes. The paper’s reporters blitz ANC meetings, zoning hearings, and council sessions, the better to fill each Wednesday’s edition with the latest on the NIMBY front. If there’s a liquor-license spat, a row over dog poop, or someone bitching about traffic flows, the Current is on it, provided that it occurs within its reportorial jurisdiction (essentially, wealthy Northwest).
But the latest edition is stretches the formula a bit, with an extensive report on the dangers of brick sidewalks. Titled “Bricks bring worries for some pedestrians,” the piece inventories various concerns from activists about brick’s unevenness and the potential for treacherous sidewalk conditions. Here’s one: “‘As much as I like the look of brick sidewalks…they cause a lot of wear and tear on a scooter,’ said Laurie Coburn, a Dupont Circle disabilities advocate who uses a motorized scooter to get around.”
Not to dis the disabled, but if this is as bad as the case gets against brick, I’m not switching allegiances. Brick sidewalks are one of the greatest ever streetscape accomplishments of the District government. And sure, there’ve been detractors, like former Washington Post reporter Vernon Loeb, who in the late ’90s wrote a nasty piece slamming the city for putting in brick sidewalks and nice curbs on a then-desolate stretch of Massachusetts Avenue east of the NPR building. Well, look at that real estate now: It’s a booming part of the city, and I’d like to think that the city’s foresight in installing the nice sidewalks had something to do with it.
There’s no gray in this picture whatsoever: DDOT does fabulous work in installing brick sidewalks in all kinds of neighborhoods. The real wonder is how well it’s all done. Sure, there may be a place or two where the brick is uneven or a touch dicey, but by and large it’s solid as a rock. I wish the brick in my entryway were as well laid.