A classic example of the idiocy described below is pictured above.
We have allowed the national chains Rally's, White Castle and Walgreen's to construct a suburban maze in the middle of a densely populated urban area, with multiple curb cuts, each building set back from the street.
But the part that continues to amaze me is that in each instance, if you're crossing either Vincennes or Spring using push button signals that may or may not work -- the terrors of vehicular traffic here is another story entirely, as we seem determined not to calm traffic or place trucks where they should be -- you cannot proceed directly to the business's door using the layout built for your feet.
That's because it was designed for cars, NOT your feet.
Rather, one either must traverse corner landscaping, which works for me only because I'm not in a wheelchair, or use the entry lanes alongside oblivious autos. In short, these three businesses are built and situated adjacent to sidewalks in an area of prime potential walkability, and simultaneously are cut off from use as a walker.
Director of Mayhem John Rosenbarger was on duty when these were approved. Anyone interested in holding his or her breath until he explains why atrocities like this occurred?
I didn't think so, seeing as the human instinct is to live, even if butchers like Rosenbarger and Warren Nash continue to deposit their paychecks for ... what?
IS YOUR CITY PEDESTRIAN-UNFRIENDLY?, by Sarah Kobos (Strong Towns)
As more and more people say they want to live in walkable neighborhoods, it’s fun to watch the old-school, suburban developers squirm. Unwilling to change what they do, they instead attempt to market their car-centric products as “pedestrian friendly.” Generally, this occurs at planning commission meetings, where words like “walkability” and “pedestrian amenities” are tossed around like claims in a presidential debate. It sounds great when they say it, but there’s no substance behind the jargon.
Here are just a few of my favorite pedestrian unfriendly amenities.
- THE SIDEWALK TO NOWHERE
- HIGH-SPEED DRIVEWAYS
- MULTIPLE CURB CUTS
- DEEP SETBACKS
- WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SAN DIEGO… AND WHERE THE !@#%*#! IS THE FRONT DOOR?
- ENORMOUS PARKING LOTS
- TITANIC SCALE
- BLANK WALLS
- ELEVATION DROPS
Then this. I see examples of each of these in New Albany every single day,as noted above. What is Team Gahan and his Bored of Works doing apart from coordinating the political finance largess from paving bids?
BUT WE CAN’T JUST BLAME THE DEVELOPERS
It’s not just old-school developers who design barriers into the pedestrian experience. Every day, people who don’t drive experience discrimination in the form of bad street design, sidewalk obstacles and blithe disregard for their needs.
A few common examples…
WHOOPS! WE FORGOT!
The most common form of pedestrian unfriendliness is the ubiquitous street without a sidewalk.
THE SIDEWALK STORAGE AREA
Many street crews obviously see the sidewalk as a convenient place to store construction materials, park cars, and locate temporary signage, even if it means that a person in a wheelchair has absolutely no way to cross the barrier.
Imagine the outrage if utilities were placed in the middle of traffic lanes, forcing cars to bob and weave their way down the street. This casual disregard for the needs of people who use sidewalks is an impressive symbol of how we prioritize auto travel over all other modes.
THE OBLIQUE RAMP
Why pay for two ramps when just one completely unsafe ramp will do?
NO RAMP AT ALL
It’s like CrossFit for disabled people.
LACK OF STREET TREES
If you live in the south, trees make a dramatic difference to people who walk.
I could go on, but you get the idea. We’ve spent the better part of 70 years building our cities for cars, not people, and it shows. It’s time to make walkability a priority, not just a feel-good buzzword.
Awareness is the first step. The more we can help our neighbors and elected officials recognize obstacles to walkability, the sooner we can make our cities better and healthier places for everyone.
Let’s get this conversation started! Share your examples of affronts to walkability on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #PedestrianUnfriendly.