It began in September, 2015, with this observation: We cannot know if the push-button crosswalk buttons work when so many of them are broken.
Jeff Speck, who once authored a walkability study for New Albany -- a document now being depleted, one precious page at a time, as toilet paper in Jeff Gahan's executive washroom -- is quoted here on the topic of push-button crosswalk signals: How Push-to-Walk reduces the quality of walkable neighborhoods.
It is almost always the cities with push-button crossings that need the most help ... push-buttons almost always mean that the automobile dominates, as they are typically installed in conjunction with a new signal timing in which crossing times are shorter and less frequent. Far from empowering walkers, the push button turns them into second-class citizens; pedestrians should never have to ask for a light.
And boy, does the auto dominate in New Albany.
In New Albany, push button crosswalk signals are not placebos. Walkers actually must push the "beg button" to receive a safe (often a facetious term) signal to cross. If the button malfunctions, there'll be no signal -- ever.
Not only do push buttons turn pedestrians into second-class citizens; broken push buttons surely deter the notion of a pleasant walk just as effectively as sidewalk parking, and other defaults wherein the sidewalk always is blocked first, not a parking space or a street lane.
"I've devoted my life as a social worker to people with developmental disabilities, and can't even walk with them in NA if they are in a wheelchair or have gait issues."
Below are photos taken on Monday morning, March 28, at the intersection of one-way Pearl Street and one-way Spring Street. It's the epicenter of downtown, quite close to where Bob Caesar never imagined a person walking from the Elks Club to his jewelry store to buy a diamond.
There are a total of eight push button signals, two on each corner. The ones pictured below are broken. In fact, one is broken on each corner. At least two of these have been broken for months. They're not the only ones downtown which are disabled, but at no other corner equipped with push buttons is traffic so constantly hazardous owing to drivers increasing speed to run beat red lights.
Note that the issue of malfunctioning push buttons doesn't address the situation at intersections like W 1st and Main, or Bank and Main, where nothing -- zero, zilch, nada -- is in place to slow traffic such that walkers can cross the street safely.
You'll note that throughout the period since the release of the Speck walkability study, Team Gahan has been careful to couch its public pronouncements about the future of street grid reform, of which there have been almost none, as being entirely devoted to making traffic safer.
Reams of evidence from across America and the world point to the flaws of this mode of "thinking," and provide abundant proof that had walkability been pursued first, before the other expensive projects pursued by the current administration, it would have been like a dose of steroids, enhancing investment and not devaluing it.
As it stands, there's a toxic stew under preparation.
- An auto-centric street grid
- Rebirth of downtown small business
- Poor lighting
- Inconsistent sidewalk maintenance
- Refusal to enforce ordinances (should there be sidewalk parking, ever?)
- Antediluvian municipal gatekeepers
Quite literally, multiple accidents are waiting to happen, as we prioritize one bright shiny object after another.
If Jeff Gahan isn't going to do anything substantive to make New Albany a walkable city, can't he just say so aloud, for attribution, and free us from the pain of watching him prevaricate?
Any suggestion he makes to the contrary is being disproved every single day on real city streets, where nothing is being done to indicate any serious intent to improve walkability, and plenty is being done to discourage it. There's only one honest way to conclude these thoughts:
Mr. Mayor, as it pertains to walkability, just shit or get off the pot.
You're embarrassing the city by making private promises constantly contradicted by public indifference -- by your bizarre insistence that you're making omelettes without breaking eggs. Even your own people know it's a shell game.
Join me for an actual walk some day, and I'll show you exactly how urban walking works in real life, as opposed to the fantasyland bunker you prefer inhabiting. The same offer goes for your minions.
Do any of you walk downtown, ever?