September 1, 2005

Suburban Office Building, Street Done Right

Not everyone wants buildings up at the sidewalk everywhere in the suburbs, and I understand that. Sometimes people want to keep a feeling of calmness, openness and spaciousness, instead of the more lively, energetic feel that a traditional town/city centers can produce.

Unfortunately, lack of imagination and good planning often end up giving us the look and feel of Rte. 9 or Speen Street - hideously pedestrian-hostile throughout most of Framingham (despite the presence of sidewalks, no one wants to use them unless they have to). However, it IS possible to create a suburban-style stretch of road with offices set back from the street, that is just as accommodating to cars as the soulless strip-mall version, yet is pleasing to pedestrians as well.

I was walking on the Leggatt-McCall Connector this afternoon, and struck again by how well planned it is for the coexistance of foot and vehicular traffic. Kudos to whoever designed the office building where Medetech is currently located - although there's parking between the building and sidewalk, it's so well buffered that it doesn't negatively impact walkers. And by buffered, I don't mean a few shrubs. I mean not only rows of tall trees, but much of the parking is downhill from pedestrian-level, so you don't feel like you're walking by that typical suburban sea of asphalt. And there's a nice, grassy divider between lanes of traffic, giving the street a human scale.

Here's a view walking on the Connector:

Legatt-McCall Connector view

The crosswalk at the driveway in and out of the Medetech building is extremely well marked

Legatt-McCall Connector crosswalk

and the path from the road into the building was clearly designed with thought to be friendly to pedestrians as well as cars

Legatt-McCall Connector view   Medetech building entryway

It's a great walking environment for the many workers in nearby office buildings. And it's just a short walk to lots more retail and services across Rte. 30 - Shoppers World and the new Fidelity building with a major Bank of America branch, among other destinations. Unfortunately, the pedestrian-friendly environment ends abruptly just before Rte. 30. Would you want to try to brave this intersection on foot to get to Shoppers World?

Ret. 30 intersection   Rte. 30 intersection

I didn't think so. No pedestrian crossing signal, no crosswalks, multiple lanes of traffic, and no sidewalk on the other side to walk up to the bank or to get to Shoppers World. What a disgrace. Much better that we all get in our SUVs, tanked up with $3+-a-gallon gas, to drive the half mile to the mall since it's too dangerous to walk. Argh.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more with Sharon! As a regular lunchtime walker in Framingham, it's a pleasure to walk on Leggat-McCall, but I dread approaching Route 30, where I have to risk my life to cross the road and get to the bank or do some other quick errand! Good for you Sharon!