Ansley Park’s Sidewalk Initiative: Mapping Poetry and Profanity    


We began our sidewalk series in the Ansleyphile by discussing the condition of Ansley’s sidewalks either as either poetic or profane. Poetic sidewalks allow us to enjoy our walk and use a wheelchair or push a stroller on them without dodging potholes, uneven surfaces, trip hazards, cracks, or crevices. Profane sidewalks are obstacles to our enjoyment. The poetry is interrupted as we dodge and balance, lift wheelchairs and strollers over bumps, and steer around potholes that are sometimes bad enough to force us into the street, where we must avoid cars and trucks. Profane!


Just how poetic or profane are our sidewalks in Ansley Park? With a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission, graduate students in Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and and Environmental Engineering just completed a detailed inventory and rating of sidewalk and ramp conditions in Ansley Park. Working under the supervision of Professor Randy Guensler, the Tech students used technology, the Sidewalk Sentry Data Collection System designed by Professor Guensler, to gather a variety data on sidewalk conditions.


A blend of old and new technology, the Sidewalk Sentry System consists of a standard wheelchair modified to hold an android tablet that uses an app to collect rolling video and record second-by-second GPS positions, high resolution vibrations and tilt data as the wheelchair is pushed along a sidewalk. The Tech team uses the data to measure sidewalk surface conditions, identify maintenance issues, and estimate sidewalk width. The cumulative data evaluating conditions for all of Ansley’s sidewalks are shown on the map below.


HERE for Maps


The Tech team assessed whether sidewalk surface conditions were in compliance with two basic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards: (1) unevenness and (2) roughness.

If a sidewalk’s surface is buckled or cracked, thus uneven, to extent that a wheelchair must be lifted or tilted to pass over the surface, the Sidewalk Sentry System records a “problem report.” As shown on the above map, the Tech team mapped almost 1,800 problem reports over approximately 80% of Ansley Park’s sidewalks.


Recorded vibration levels were assessed to assign a roughness rating. Areas where a sidewalk’s surface roughness was rated “poor” or “worst” (usually meaning potholes or cracks) are shown on the map (marked in orange or red on the version that’s available on the website), often appearing underneath the problem report areas. The system also records and maps obstructions like vegetation and debris.


Rate your own sidewalk and see how that compares with the Tech team’s assessment. Just how poetic or profane is the sidewalk adjacent to your house? To your neighbors’? Go outside for a few minutes. Take a look or a walk. How do you rate your sidewalk? Poetic? Profane? A mixed metaphor of both? Let us us know at: environment@ansleypark.org.


What’s Next?


This summer the APCA will use the sidewalk assessment data to prioritize, plan, and get bids for the construction phase—the poetry writing—of our sidewalk initiative. APCA volunteer sidewalk sales people will then reach out to each Ansley resident with sidewalks in need of repair or replacement to solicit their participation in this initiative.


The more would-be poets who participate, the less expensive, thus more beautiful, our new sidewalk poetry will be. Our goal is to begin construction (writing poetry) in the mid-to-late fall, completing the work by May 2017.


Scotty Greene, Chair Built Environment Committee



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