Who’s Been Driving on the Sidewalk? A West Chester Mystery

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Who’s been driving on the cut-through?

The other day I stumbled on a troubling site, tire tracks on the sidewalk. This was not the result of a very bad park job or a sloppy driveway exit. These were full on tire tracks running the length of a well-traveled borough sidewalk.  

To understand this story there are two pieces of West Chester geography you must first be familiar with — one is the Dean Street cut through to Everhart Park.The other is Holley Alley.

The Best Way to Get to Everhart Park from Dean Street

If you live on the southwest side of town, particularly down Price or Sharpless streets, you may have come across the Dean Street cut through to Everhart park. It’s a sidewalk that connects the west end of Dean Street to Holley Alley. From here you can follow the alley out to Everhart Park — it will drop you out down near the swings and basketball courts. The walkway was a gift from the developer of Paxson Park to the people of the development. Easy access to the park. (I’m pretty sure it was on the marketing brochures.) On one side of the cut-through is a fenced in wetlands area. The other side is open. The walkway is public; both sides are privately owned.

The other thing to note is Holley Alley. This alley runs parallel between Dean and Union Streets until the very last block.  At the last second before it is to dump out into Bradford Avenue, Holley Alley, makes a sharp right turn out to Union Street.

Tracks on the Sidewalk

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Close up of the tire tracks. Bring in the forensics teams.

A couple weeks ago I was walking with the baby down the alley. We were heading to the cut through then up Dean Street. When we were met by clear tire tracks running along one edge of the sidewalk. As you recall, the cut through is simply a sidewalk connecting the sidewalk on Dean Street to Holley Alley. It is most certainly not a road, private, dirt or otherwise, which is clearly what the driver discovered when he or she tried to proceed down the pass-through.

And just to clarify these are large tire tracks much larger than a bicycle, motorcycle or motorbike.

The thing is, this is not the first time I have seen tire-tracks in this area. Which raises the question how is someone mistaking this for a road?

Who is repeatedly driving on the sidewalk?

Holley Alley gets a walk score of 90. Apparently, they do not know about the trucks driving down the sidewalk.

My hypothesis.

It’s night. A driver has turned from Bradford Avenue up Union Street and is now heading the wrong way up a one-way street (this, by the way, happens too frequently.) The driver now in a panic to correct his or her mistake makes a quick right turn into the alley. Under the dim light of the alley and with already shaky nerves, the driver mistakes the the cut-through sidewalk as a continuation of the alley. Once again eliciting panic as his or her car struggles to pull through the muddy ground.

I was wrong.

The surprising conclusion.

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The getaway.

The other day the baby and I were back at our walk when I ran into the owner of the land to the right of the pass-through raking the displaced dirt back into place.

“What happened? Did a car come through here?” I asked.

I really expected to have my hypothesis verified, but no.

“An Amazon delivery truck,” he said pausing to let it sink in.  

A delivery truck. On the sidewalk?  And apparently it was not the first time.

“They claim it’s listed as a road in their GPS,” my neighbor explained.

“We’re putting up a post.”

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A temporary deterrent.

I share this story not only because it’s crazy, but because it’s dangerous. The pathway is used by kids, small and large, dogs (small and large), and residents of all sizes to get to the park. The alley is dangerous enough with the blind turn and use as an escape route for those who forgot Union Street was a one way, the last thing it needs is delivery truck driving down the sidewalk.

There is however, a happy ending. The post is in place so hopefully that will deter dogged drivers while, Amazon works to update their GPS.

In the meantime, looking for some clearly marked walking trails that presumably don’t have Amazon trucks on them? Chester County’s got a new walking route for you. Plus, the right way to bike safe.

And don’t forget, follow along for more mind boggling West Chester mysteries and other happenings around town.

 

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