RIVERDALE — Residents in Riverdale and other nearby neighborhoods on the Far South Side say they are fed up with having to walk in the street or trek through the mud to get to the only local grocery store because the route doesn’t have a sidewalk.
“It’s bad,” said Jesse Johnson, 52, who lives in nearby Golden Gate.
He said he and others used to cut through Aldridge Elementary School’s parking lot, which is next to the Rosebud Farms Grocery Store, 525 E. 130th St., to avoid the mud. But since a locked fence has been put up, they no longer have that option.
“It’s a hassle, but this is the only store, so we have to make it work,” he said.
Delors Lucas, chairwoman of the Safety Transportation Advisory Council, a neighborhood advocacy group, has been collecting signatures from residents of the communities of Altgeld Gardens, Golden Gate, Concordia, Riverside Village and Pangea Lakes for a petition she plans to present to 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale.
“The issue of 130th Street’s lack of a sidewalk has been brought to my attention, and my staff and I have been examining the options for that stretch of road," Beale said in a statement. "In a time of limited funding, decisions on how to allocate infrastructure upgrades are never easy. I will continue to work with my constituents to identify my ward’s most pressing needs, as well as the creative solutions for them.”
Lucas said that Rosebud Farms is the closest grocery store for residents who don’t have a car. It’s not unusual to see shoppers lugging bags along the road or pushing strollers in the street, Lucas said.
“It is so important for us to become safer,” she said. “We have not had sidewalks in some areas of this neighborhood since the mid-1960s. We’re in 2015, and it’s a shame that we don’t have that safety measure in place.”
Rekia Neute, who lives Altgeld Gardens, dreads what she says is a dangerous walk.
“The cars and trucks get closer to the curb when the wind is blowing really strong, and rush hour is the worst,” she said.
All communities should have several options to get around, said Cynthia Hudson, a coordinator with Active Transportation Alliance, which has partnered with Lucas in trying to get sidewalks in the area.
“Whether you walk, bike or take public transit, we feel that everyone should have access to the proper infrastructure,” Hudson said.
To make that happen it will take the community coming together, collecting signatures and writing letters to elected officials, she said. Her group and Lucas’ will also reach out to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“We want all the elected officials of the 9th Ward to embrace this idea of making our neighborhoods safer, starting with sidewalks that are pedestrian-friendly,” Lucas said.
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