Monday, April 4, 2022

Richardson's Ten Best Planning Decisions:
10 - Sidewalks are Everywhere in Richardson

I believe that of the things a city can control, its land use planning is the most impactful thing that can control its future fortunes and success. A city that does that poorly or does not try to make up for past errors will show its cracks in the long run. A city that does it well will reap financial or economic fortunes and social and intangible ones as well.


I have started a "Ten Best" list of Richardson's planning decisions with that in mind. These are past decisions that give it strength, pay dividends, and make Richardson a great place to live. More after the jump.

The list will encompass development, zoning, transportation infrastructure, regulations, and anything else affecting land use. One might say that anything involving land is a "land use decision," and that is almost all decisions within a city. There is some truth to that. However, I am sticking to those actions traditionally thought of as land use planning (or things close to it.) I am leaving parks and schools for - perhaps - another list. That does not mean they are not worthy of a Ten Best, and in Richardson, many certainly are. It just means that they fall under a different subject.

Why do I call them "decisions?" I chose to call them decisions because that emphasizes action. These are things, achievements, features, or could be described by any number of nouns, but all require that some person or persons have made decisions and acted on those decisions.

You might ask: If you are publishing a Ten Best, when will you post a Ten Worst? Not now, but I intend to do so. For now, let's stick to Ten Best. This list will come out over time - maybe one or two at a time. At this point, they are not in any specific order.

Let us begin.

10 - Sidewalks are Everywhere in Richardson

Sidewalks are everywhere in Richardson. I am sure that some will read this and respond with a big, "so what?" We should notice and be grateful for the ubiquity and universal presence of sidewalks. They seem so obvious and that we take them for granted is a sign of success.

Richardson's sidewalks are the result of conscious decisions and actions. Very few areas built after the early 1950s in Richardson do not have sidewalks. That is not so in every place and every suburb.

Are you not convinced? Here are some examples.

These pictures below come from Garland's Spring Park neighborhood just east of Jupiter Road, and the last picture is just west of Jupiter in Richardson. All are on Springpark Way or very close. Both Garland and Richardson sides were built in roughly the same era.


Spring Park - Garland

The lack of a sidewalk in any direction is notable in the photo above.


Also Spring Park - Garland

In order to walk from the sidewalk in the lower left and continue east, the pedestrian would have to go all the way to the stop sign located in the upper right of the photo above.  This is also in Spring Park in Garland. No word on how pedestrians going to or from the north side of the street (see the van) should get to or leave their homes.


Springpark Way - Richardson

The photo taken above is just across Jupiter in Richardson. Unlike on the Garland side there are full fledged sidewalks in all directions. That is to say, all four corners in all directions giving the pedestrian 8 sidewalks. This true for all parts of the residential area and including the Richardson Crowley Park neighborhood to the north and east.

Let's go with two more examples outside of Richardson.

The location above in Farmers Branch is notable because this neighborhood was started as best as I determine the same year that Richardson Heights was started: 1954. As you can see not all directions have sidewalks. Despite there being redevelopment of houses on some of those streets, I don't see that sidewalks have been added. Straight ahead on the right side of the photo there is no sidewalk and on the left across the street the sidewalk ends. I don't need to post a photo from Richardson Heights but the conclusion is clear. Two neighborhoods. Two cities. Same era. One has complete sidewalks and the other does not.

Preston Hollow - Dallas

Lastly, we see a location in Preston Hollow in Dallas. Preston Hollow is probably the most expensive real estate in Dallas but no sidewalks throughout much of it. I added this one because of an anecdote I overheard at a restaurant. I heard two runners - both residents of Preston Hollow - complaining about safety running on the street in the early morning hours due to the lack of sidewalks. They wouldn't have that problem in Richardson.

It does not end there. At some point, Richardson decided it wanted to maintain sidewalks through the actions of the City. That was not always the case. When I was a kid, I recall discussions and complaints between adults talking about the City's position that sidewalks in front of homes were the sole responsibility of the owner. That was the 1970s.

In the past 25 years, the City of Richardson realized that position was untenable. Much of the sidewalk maintenance in residential areas is funded through yearly budgets and City Bond elections. We see the results of pedestrian paths through Richardson being maintained and upgraded. 

An astute reader (thank you!) sent me a timely Dallas Morning News story on the terrible shape of Dallas' sidewalks. Nobody can make this claim about Richardson.

So we should not take our ubiquitous sidewalks for granted and be thankful that Sidewalks are Everywhere in Richardson.

Stay tuned for further posts on Richardson's Ten Best Planning Decisions.


  1. After moving to FW from Richardson I can attest to how important sidewalks are. There are none in my neighborhood. Walking my dogs in the street with cars going past is not fun. What's odd is that there are some sidewalks around, but they are the exception, not the rule. Lots of things that the big city doesn't provide that the smaller Richardson did. Don't get me going on garbage pickup. Richardson residents have it good!

  2. I learned from the Dallas News article about sidewalks that Dallas splits the cost of sidewalk maintenance with the homeowner. I believe Richardson picks up the entire cost. I like Richardson's practice. The result is the same...if sidewalks are maintained. I like sidewalks to be maintained.

  3. Sidewalks are a big deal, and I appreciate your article pointing out that this is something to applaud Richardson for. The nice neighborhood where my parents live, in Bent Tree near the Tollway and Keller Springs, is completely sidewalk-less, and consequently it is so much more difficult and dangerous to walk or jog through their neighborhood. I am pretty sure most of those homes were from the 1980s era, and I've never understood the lack of sidewalks there. Nevertheless, plenty of joggers just take to the streets, but the Keller Springs traffic has picked up so much that I feel it's only a matter of time before we see more conflicts. I always worry about the evening walkers and joggers especially. I'm super grateful to Richardson for not leaving us high and dry with no sidewalks!

  4. Thanks for that comment. It is interesting you mention that area. I lived in that area a few years after college and before I moved back to Richardson.

    Now that you mention it, that is the first place where I tried to walk to lots of places instead of driving. You are right! I remember having to walk in the street to go to a restaurant that I frequented. Good comment. thanks!