The sidewalks along our street can be a test of pedestrians' initiative. This sidewalk has been constricted since last fall, and though it doesn't affect most of us, it could make things tricky for the occasional person in an electric wheel chair heading up to the shopping center. For months, I'd think of that each time I walked this sidewalk, and each time I'd do nothing about it. I know the owner who is supposed to keep this sidewalk clear. It's usually better to knock on the door and point out the problem, which homeowners often don't notice as they come and go in their cars. But he's busy with a young kid or two, and after all, it took me a few years living up the street before it dawned on me that my portion of sidewalk was partially obstructed by shrubs. Finally, I went ahead and shoveled the leaves off the sidewalk. Fifteen minutes of exercise is not to be regretted, and this newly cleared stretch has now gained positive associations to replace those pesky concerns--a victory for self and community.
Here's another recurrent obstruction, across the street. Most of the bamboo stems returned to vertical after the storm, but one stem remained hanging over the sidewalk for days. Rather than intervene, I made it into an experiment, a test of citizenship and community spirit, to see whether any pedestrian would actually take the initiative and break the stem off, to solve this annoying problem in a small corner of Princeton's commons. Several days passed, with each pedestrian walking around it, before one finally took a few seconds of extra time to pin it back where it wouldn't obstruct those that followed.
For virtual nature walks identifying the diverse intrusive foliage along blocked Princeton sidewalks, see A Portrait of Sidewalk Neglect and a Weedful, Needful Sidewalk.