Jul 26, 2012 | 00:07

Sidewalks anywhere in the world are made for walking, except for Jordan.

Here, sidewalks are customarily just a necessity imposed by the building code, not a safe place for pedestrians.

They are often a hazard, frequently an ungainly sight and very rarely a lane on which one enjoys walking.

At times too narrow, at others blocked by low-crowned trees, parked cars or construction material, they are rarely safe. They are, in most cases, obstacle racecourses or zigzagging passageways that force one to weave in and out of the traffic in a battle for survival. And what sweet victory it is when no limb or life is lost in the process!

Unfortunately, the concerned officials do not seem to notice or care about the state of our sidewalks. They, undoubtedly, are in no need to walk, and what they do not witness does not exist. Or so the ostrich believes.

Such is the situation at a time health-conscious individuals are advocating walking as an exercise that both benefits the body and saves fuel otherwise used for even the shortest trip.

To rectify this problem would obviously cost much if left to the Greater Amman Municipality and other cities alone. This kind of investment is not available nowadays for obvious reasons.

Instead, municipalities across the country could, by law, require building owners to take care of their share of sidewalks. That would involve removing debris, trimming trees — if they still exist, despite the uprooting and promise to replant them a few years ago — and regular maintenance.

At the same time, individuals using these places to park their cars and construction workers obstructing them have to be seriously penalised until the idea is instilled that sidewalks are places to “walk” on, and not anything else.