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'You're not wanted here' 

Long Story Short

When I decided to spend a day walking around No Man's Land, I expected to feel uneasy about a few things.

I just didn't think infrastructure would be one of them.

After a day encountering people from every walk of life, what really unnerved me were the parts of West Colorado Avenue that lack sidewalks. In fact, that was the inspiration for the title of this week's cover story, "Where the sidewalk ends."

You might remember that title from the sweet Shel Silverstein poem that reflects on the need for nature in childhood. Silverstein's sidewalk's end features grass that "grows soft and white" and "peppermint wind."

Our No Man's Land is no natural paradise. With photographer Bradley Flora, I ambled along those stretches of sidewalk-less road with cars coming at me like missiles, and felt degraded.

I've walked in plenty of neighborhoods, good and bad. But there's something about not being given a safe path that sends a message. It's like every car that whizzes dangerously close is repeating the mantra, "You're not wanted here."

No Man's Land got its title because it's a kaleidoscope of jurisdictions: El Paso County land, Colorado Springs land, Manitou Springs land, a state-owned road. But that name seemed to carry a different, more sinister meaning after I spent some time considering what it would be like to actually live here — to wake up every morning and walk that treacherous line.

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