Saturday, June 05, 2010

Pedestrian Friendly??

During the elections last year, Holladay City Councilperson Pat Pignanelli promoted that she had made walking and cycling easier in the area by getting a sidewalk put in near a park and also said that bicycle lanes were making it safer for kids to get to school on Spring Lane.

So is the area more pedestrian friendly now? Or is it more propaganda for a politician trying to get elected but is doing little make the community less pedestrian hostile?

I decided to take a walk with the area and take some pictures of the good, bad and very ugly when it comes to pedestrian friendly in the Holladay area.

We will actually start this journey in Murray at 900 East and the Van Winkle Superspeedway for bad drivers, I mean Van Winkle Expressway. This first photo is looking east across 900 East. As a pedestrian not only are you faced with trying to cross a wide street but you face doing it in a non-existent crosswalk and deal with drivers turning right who rarely look for pedestrians.

In addition the Beehive Academy is just to the left out of the picture so there is a large number of children who have to navigate this area.

Next we start our walk down Murray-Holladay Road which looks very attractive with a nice grassy area and trees between the pedestrian and the speeding vehicles. While the speed limit is 35 mph down the section of Murray-Holladay from Van Winkle to 1300 East, many drivers travel far beyond that speed.

As you can see we are approaching a problem in the sidewalk.

In front of an office building, there is a jog in the sidewalk. While this may be no problem for many people, for anyone who has a disability especially those that are in wheelchairs, this creates a hazard they have to navigate.

Getting closer to 1300 East we continue to have a barrier between the pedestrian the street although the sidewalk is narrow and so is the barrier. In addition you have several homes that have large walls put up that create another feeling of unfriendliness for the pedestrian.

As you can see from the next photo after you cross 1300 East the barrier disappears and you are right next to speeding traffic. As can be seen from the photo Murray Holladay can be a very busy road and this photo was taken during a quiet part of the day.

Now we enter the area where Pat Pignanelli proudly proclaimed that she put in a sidewalk so it is more pedestrian friendly. First you encounter this hill with speeding vehicles including trucks and buses to your left and this slope to your right. During winter it would easy to slip and fall down the hill and if you needed to make a quick move you would have no choice but to dive down the rocky slope.

As you get closer to a park, the road flattens out but then you have this wall that creates another barrier and despite the presence of the sidewalk, there is nothing between you and speeding cars and trucks. Of course when I took these photos it had to be one of the most quiet times I have ever seen on Murray-Holladay Road, but you can get an impression on how bad the situation could be with more traffic.

Once again you have another spot where the pedestrian is forced to alter course.

Here is another shot that shows that you may put in a sidewalk but it does not make it pedestrian friendly.

Now we turn off of Murray-Holladay Road and on to 1665 East that becomes Kings Row Driver.

At the corner of 1665 East and Murray Holladay sits a popular park. However, apparently not popular enough to put in a sidewalk.

Now as it becomes Kings Row, the road is more pedestrian friendly but don't let the speed bumps fool you. They are not there to make things better for pedestrians but to slow down people who would speed through the neighborhood at high speed because it goes all the way to 1300 East.

If fact here is the intersection of Kings Row and 1645 East. As you can see there is speed bumps but no crosswalks to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

Now here is a view looking down Fieldcrest Lane. While the sidewalks are a little too narrow, a pedestrian feels more at ease down this street since cars are going slower and there is real sidewalks and medians between the sidewalk and the automobile lanes. However, you only go a couple of blocks and all sidewalks disappear.

The next photo shows what happens when you are not careful when planting trees. If a developer is just trying to build n' burn they will quickly plant trees and move on. If the trees are not buried far enough in the ground the roots will spread out and damage the sidewalk making it unsafe for pedestrians and eventually the trees are cut down to stop the damage.

Further west on Kings Row there is more speed bumps but you also have the ball field for St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School. Here there is a cross walk with a speed bump. Hopefully this slows down the drivers so that the children are in less danger than they would other wise be.

However, just up the road at 1300 East you have an extremely dangerous intersection. Despite the school being right behind me in the photo, there is no crosswalks marked at this intersection. Many times I have seen people almost hit because people making left and right turns onto Kings Row from 1300 East will not look for pedestrians.

In addition Kings Row has a slight summit then comes down to 1300 East. People often get passed the last speed bump (show above) then speed toward 1300 East and will often go partially into the intersection before they stop.

Here is a car making a right turn onto Kings Row. While these people did, often times drivers will not look for pedestrians and will nearly hit people trying to cross the road.

Next down at 1300 East and Spring Lane we have another problem intersection. While this one has had a light for about 5 years now, people turning off of 1300 East have this wall to the right and will often not slow down to check for pedestrians are in the crosswalk or trying to cross. In addition right turning drivers have to worry about something rear ending them because people are too impatient to wait for a car to make the right turn onto Spring Lane.

Finally we have Spring Lane itself. Here we have another one of those "feel good" projects that do little to increase pedestrian (and in this case) bike safety. What was the parking lanes along Spring Lanes have been stripped as bicycle lanes.

However while not present in the photo, there is often cars parked in the lanes which requires bicycles to go into traffic. In addition there many parts of Spring Lane have no sidewalks so both pedestrians and bicycles are forced into traffic.

As can be seen from these photos, just because you put down some concrete for a sidewalk does not make an area pedestrian friendly. Our communities need to be more pedestrian and bicycle friendly in order to make them more livable. In addition it is hard to get people to try transit when they have to risk their lives just getting to the bus stop.

It is not the responsibility of the transit system to make it easier to get to the bus stop but the city or jurisdiction. They need to ensure that transit riders can get to the bus stop and ride. This will not only benefit transit but the city as well.
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