Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NO on Sidewalk Trees

I found a green door hanger on my front door yesterday afternoon. It was from the Keep Eureka Beautiful (KEB) folks. Local busy- body and past candidate for Eureka City Council, Ron Kuhnel, was listed as the contact. They were offering to tear up squares of my sidewalk and plant trees in them, all for the low price of $75.00 each.

I'm sure they mean well, but this is a dumb idea for a number of reasons.
There's no shortage of either trees or shade in Eureka but more trees, especially in the sidewalks, will cause problems- limited visibility, being one.

That's considered an advantage by the KEB folks because trees along streets slow traffic down. Why is that? Because trees reduce visibility so most people slow down because they can't see as well. But that also increases the chance of a child or pet not being seen when they suddenly appear from behind a tree.
I suspect street trees could make streets more dangerous because of the drivers who speed regardless of conditions.

Limited visibility also makes it easier for thieves and other criminal types to go about their business undetected. Security experts always recommend less trees and shrubbery around a home, not more.

Trees make messes. One thing people who plant trees discover is they can be a hassle just because of the mess they make. All trees, whether deciduous or evergreen, shed leaves. Some shed leaves all year long. This ends up costing everyone for clean up and unplugging storm drains.


I recall driving down I Street last year when leaves were dropping. Between 5th and 6th Streets on the west side there's a number of sidewalk trees in front of businesses. Leaves were covering the sidewalk. That really looked the mess. I'm not one normally bothered by the "wild" look of leaves on the ground but who's gonna clean that up?

I know in my business Fall leaves can be a real headache. Try mowing a lawn with a 6" layer of leaves over it and see how fun that is. Sometimes there's more leaves than can be hauled off in one truck load. Often the city ends up footing the bill for removal as leaves end up out in the street.


Leaves can also be a safety hazard. I've slipped on piles of leaves before. A few years ago, the leaves from our chestnut tree piled up behind the tires of my truck after it rained. When I returned home the leaves were still there. As I slowed down and stopped, the wheels stopped on the leaves and the truck skidded about 3 feet. If the wife's car was still parked where it normally was I would have hit it.

What about the sidewalks themselves? There's three properties (one being the Arkley's) with fairly recently installed sidewalk trees within half a block of my house. I'm not impressed with any of them. I wouldn't go so far to call them ugly, but I cringe every time I see them. I can't help but think what a pain it would be to park my car or have to unload large items from a truck next to those trees.

I have yet to see one property with street trees that wouldn't be fine or even better off without them.

Sidewalk trees are not a good idea. If someone wants to go ahead and plant trees in their sidewalk, then have at it. I certainly won't. We have enough trouble with the trees we already have.


Let's hope few people fall for this idea or that those who do won't be able to afford the $75.00 per tree. Let's not go out of our way to create problems that needn't be.

10 Comments:

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never had trouble with limited visibility from street trees. I have had plenty of trouble though with parked cars, especially at corners where they park too close.

Nothing adds more beauty to a neighborhood than trees on the sidewalks. It's just a drag that it takes them so long to mature.

 
At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I had Ron put up two trees by my rental property. Thank you Ron!

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Fred said...

We have more than enough trees up here as it is.

 
At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that saying this idea is dumb is a little harsh given that traffic control studies conclude that narrow streets slow traffic therefore making a safer neighborhood. Engineers have known for some time now that by adding trees to an already wide street can be an inexpensive fix by giving the illusion of a smaller street, ultimately slowing traffic and keeping neighborhoods safe.

http://newurbannetwork.com/article/research-trees-make-streets-safer-not-deadlier

Thanks to motivated individuals, Eureka can become a safer place for bikes and pedestrians. Keep up the awesome work KEB!

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Fred said...

It is dumb when you consider the problems you'll be creating by planting as many trees as these folks want to plant.

 
At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My concern would be less room for people to walk on the sidewalk.

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Rose said...

Nobody walks on the sidewalks in Eureka. :)

I like the trees, and I do see your point - roots and leaves do cause maintenance problems, but I love the towns with the tree lined streets. I really does add something warm, and homey, as opposed to stark and lifeless.

 
At 4:26 PM, Anonymous grackle said...

What a great rant, are you practicing for a full and rich retirement? Next you can take on dogs and children. The possibilities are endless

 
At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trees lined streets make every town prettier and Eureka needs the help. Check out Eugene Oregon. In spring and summer the streets are green tunnels through old oaks. In fall a riot of color against abundant dark green. In winter they are perfect for Christmas decorations.

 
At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sidewalk trees do require some maintenance, but on balance I think it's worth it.

Now would I pay $75 for someone to plant a tree for me? Nope. But if someone else wants some trees in front of their house and can't do the job themselves, and they're willing to pay someone $75 for the job, I have no problem with that.

 

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