Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Need for a Pedestrian Friendly Environment

The pedestrian Bauman Street in Kazan.Image via WikipediaFor anyone who is attempted to catch a bus in Utah, it is common knowledge that of the most part Utah is not friendly to pedestrians.

Among the issues facing pedestrians in Utah:

-No Sidewalks even in established neighborhoods

-Narrow Sidewalks where sidewalks exist

-No seperation between high speed auto traffic and pedestrians

-Poor Lighting

A running joke we have is that is about how backwards can you be when you have to use flashlights to flag down buses in the 21st Century????

Lack of sidewalks is a big problem. Even in Holladay where I live, when I walk to the bus there is several sections of street with no sidewalks. At least it is a residential street, however it is a through street and despite there being two schools along the road many people travel 40mph along there despite the 25mph speed limit.

It would be even worst if I had to ride the night ride (I don't ride because of this). I would have to walk north along 1300 East for about a 3/4 of a mile to reach the residential street mentioned above plus cross Van Winkle Superspeedway (oh I mean Expressway). With no sidewalks for part of the distance and people often traveling 50+ in that 40mph zone there is no way I will walk from that bus.

Where there is sidewalks along 1300 East and other roads, the sidewalks have been narrowed so far that the cars are passing you way to close and if a car was to loose control only slightly, there is nothing you could do especially at the speeds they are traveling. Add the fact that there is very few places where there is adequate separation between the sidewalks and the road, makes walking in most places even more dangerous.

Another major issue when walking after dark is the lack of lighting. There is very few places where there is adequate light and there are places where the lighting doesn't even work. How long have the lights on State Street north of 8680 South in Sandy not been working? If you add all the problems mentioned above and add the lack of street lighting, it is clear that being a pedestrian in Utah is not safe.

The UTA, the cities, and all those concerned need to work to address these issues. If it isn't safe to walk to the bus people are not going to ride the bus. We need to have safe ways to ride the bus, and pedestrian friendly environments benefit not only bus riders but everyone especially children who have to walk. It is time for change.
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