December 20, 2006

Adventures in Walking Along Rte. 30

With the seasonal traffic particularly awful this time of year, I tried parking once and walking to several destinations along Rte. 30 last week. It was an, um, interesting experience.

First, some good news. The walk from Stop & Shop to the new Lowe's is drastically improved, thanks to the new walkway along the side of Lowe's between it and Target. If you're on foot and want to actually cross over between Lowe's and Target, it's not TOO difficult around the stores -- the main problem is that cars are whizzing through there and not expecting pedestrians. I'm not sure I'd try it after dark. At the sidewalk, however, where 5 lanes of traffic are spilling out, it's scary. There needs to be a pedestrian median there.

The walk along the sidewalk in front of Lowe's to the post office was decent. The extra curb cut for Lowe's rooftop parking doesn't help, although right now with the store still new and not at full capacity, there wasn't too much traffic in and out of there while I was walking. As for the post office, it still needs a marked walkway between the sidewalk and the building. While the front parking isn't that large, when it's crowded there are cars pulling in and out of there all the time, and there definitely ought to be a visually pleasing, safe-feeling path from sidewalk to entrance.

Crossing Rte. 30 to get to the businesses on the other side is a truly frightening experience. Whether I'm crossing near Leggat-McCall Way to get to the Bank of America, or further down to get to the strip malls, it's always scary. There is absolutely no good place in the retail area of Rte. 30 to cross from one side to the other on foot, and that's crazy.

Besides well-marked crosswalks and adequate crossing light cycles, you need an attractive median where pedestrians can rest while walking across a lot of lanes of traffic, which makes it feel much safer. Plus, attention needs to be paid to the angle of curb cuts, which can make a corner feel more or less threatening.

Try crossing at Rte. 126 and 30 on foot sometime, and you'll see how unsafe it feels even if you've got a signal. No matter which way you're trying to go -- even just across 126 on the same side of 30, to get, say, from the Aegean Restaurant to the B&R Artisan Bread shop a couple of blocks down, feels downright frightening. It shouldn't. People ought to be able to park once and walk safely between retail establishments within a quarter or half mile of each other, without having to drive from place to place.

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