Now that Highway N, Osage Street and Old Gray Summit Road have sidewalks, walkers formerly confined to their subdivision streets are becoming more social, setting their exercise time to run into acquaintances, according to Candy Cloak, a resident of Indian Hills Subdivision and a daily walker.

We may have just gone through one of the most persistent heat waves in recent memory, but Pacific residents found new reasons to be out of the house, Cloak said.

“The sidewalk on Highway N is bringing people out,” Cloak said. “I walk every day. I used to just walk in my subdivision, but now I walk to the little bridge on the Highway N sidewalk and back. It’s a mile each way.”

The Highway N sidewalk stretches from Hawthorne subdivision to Indian Hills subdivision, south of Riverbend School.

“I’m not alone,” Cloak said. “Since the sidewalks are in, there are people out there yelling ‘hi’ to neighbors,” she said. “I think it’s a positive thing.”

Ruth, who did not want to give her last name, is a tiny person, rail thin with a quick smile and easy laugh. She walks each day to Queen’s IGA from her apartment in the Flier Apartments, which is approximately a mile.

“I walk all over the city,” Ruth said. “I like the sidewalks. It’s safer than walking in the street.”

The new Osage Street sidewalk stretches from Seventh Street to Pacific High School on Indian Pride Drive, placing frequent walkers like Ruth, who formerly walked in the street, on sidewalks safe from moving vehicles.

New sidewalks on Old Gray Summit Road also have lured walkers out of their subdivisions.

“When I pull out of my subdivision it’s great to see people walking along the sidewalk,” said Diane Goode. “That’s something I never saw before the sidewalks were in. It just wasn’t safe.”

Tim and Lori Hinkebein use the sidewalk on Old Gray Summit Road near their Silver Lakes subdivision home for three-times-a-week exercise. He is an avid runner and she an avid walker. Before the sidewalks were completed they confined their exercise to the subdivision streets, which can be steep.

Now Tim makes a four-mile run on city sidewalks, Old Gray Summit Road to Payne Street to Osage to LaMar Parkway and back to Old Gray Summit Road and is on a sidewalk all the way.

Lori’s walks take her along Old Gray Summit Road to Congress Street to the city park and back, a two-mile walk. It’s exhilarating running or walking through the city, they said.

City Administrator Harold Selby and his wife Becky, another running-walking team who formerly utilized the nearby trails system for safe exercise, are now three-times-a-week users of city sidewalks.

“I can run from my house all the way downtown and back and be on a sidewalk all the way,” said Selby, who is an early morning runner and sees people out walking on the sidewalks at 5:30 and 6 a.m. every morning.

“It’s funny that people are talking about using the sidewalks,” Selby said. “I just put together an article about it that is going in the city newsletter.”

Selby said he runs six or seven miles on the network of city sidewalks.

“What is great is I can deviate from any route and go up to Silver Lakes or over to Liberty Field,” he said. “The other thing I have found is we really have some hills here. Coming up Lamar Parkway is a good workout.”

Becky Selby’s walking routine takes her down Indian Trail to Highway N at Riverbend, then she follows the sidewalks to the city park, which is about two miles. She then sometimes walks around the park circle before the return trek up the Congress Street slope to Highway N and home.

Walkers from Old Town, which has sporadic sidewalks, also can be seen trudging up the hill on Congress Street heading for Highway N, Old Gray Summit Road and LaMar Parkway where they face a down-hill walk to LaMar Plaza, up again to Osage then east to Fourth or First Street and back to Old Town.

Before the sidewalks were completed on Congress and Old Gray Summit Road, walkers rarely ventured onto Congress Street west of Payne.

“I think what has really made me happy is seeing all the people who are using the sidewalks,” Selby said. “It is amazing. All ages. I’m out there sometimes at 5:30 a.m. and I see other people.”

The city has been aggressive in repairing older sidewalks, such West Pacific Street and East Congress in Old Town.

Plans are under way for new sidewalks on Thornton Road from Eagles View to Viaduct, from Viaduct to Osage and on Osage Street, and from Seventh Street to the Red Cedar Inn.

The city also has a grant request pending for new sidewalks on Congress from Hawthorne to Fourth Street.

“It is great to see the walkers, runners, moms pushing strollers, dads walking the dog, and all the kids who are now safely on a sidewalk and not on the street,” Selby said.

Highway N resident Doug Wurst agrees. Wurst can be seen with his dog Charlie, a 9-month-old Chocolate Lab, walking on the new Highway N sidewalk, near Riverbend School.

Wurst and Charlie walk about a mile from their house on Highway N to Indian Hills Subdivision. Before the sidewalks were finished Wurst said he never would have walked on the heavily traveled road with a rambunctious pup in training.

“We wouldn’t be walking along here if there wasn’t a sidewalk,” he said.