6.13.2008

PEDESTRIAN UNFRIENDLY

A big element of transit-oriented development, new urbanism, and all those related concepts is pedestrian friendliness. Agreed; but sometimes easier to understand in concept than picture in reality. What is clear as day to me are examples of pedestrian unfriendliness.

I walked as a pedestrian in one such place this morning. I had a meeting in a part of Philadelphia that is largely off the major transit grid, but does have bus service. So even though taking that bus line would entail coordinating my schedule around its twice-an-hour cycle and walking a total of 25 minutes before and after the bus leg, I decided to forgo my car and get there by bus.

The ride was pleasant and air-conditioned, and got me to the drop-off point early. So I could afford a more leisurely pace. Good thing, because I was soon on roads without sidewalks. The good news is that it was very nature-rich, a nice treat of chirping birds and wild vegetation for my walking pleasure. The bad news is I had to keep a watchful eye and ear for speeding motorists, so I could duck off the road and onto, well, nature.

In fact, on the way back to work from my meeting, a car sped past me, stopped, and then yelled over to me: "You want a ride?" The middle-aged woman seemed nice enough to not raise my safety alarms, so I hopped in. She said she did this a lot; since the place was so pedestrian-unfriendly, it was her little good deed for the day to get some poor pedestrian (like me) off the road and onto the main, sidewalked thoroughfare. Within minutes, she dropped me off and I gave her a warm thanks, happy to be walking on a sidewalk dedicated to walkers and not a road dedicated to vehicles much larger than walkers.

I've written about pedestrian-unfriendly places before, like Saratoga and San Jose. I guess there are places like that in my very own city as well.
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