October 4, 2007

Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and the inability to walk between them

Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both appeal to a similar demographic -- consumers who care about the quality of their food, and are seeking something besides unhealthy agribusiness offerings. In Framingham, both have set up shop -- one block after another, in fact. It creates a synergy to be a regional draw, and a perfect opportunity for a park-once, walk-to-multiple-destinations retail center... except it's all but impossible to walk between the two because of the way they were designed. Why???

I recently walked between Whole Foods and Walgreen's just across the street, and that was scary enough. Distance is short, but you have to cross multiple lanes of traffic that was criss-crossing lanes everywhere, and no driver expectation of foot traffic.

Even though both stores are set back from the road, there's no crossing area between the buildings (and you'd have to be insane to try that yourself); instead, walkers have to double the distance by going to the edge of the parking lots to get back to the street. But at Rte. 9, the lanes of traffic you need to cross increases because of Prospect Street turning lanes added, with no median area breaking them out. It's not something most people would even try. Instead, I'm sure that most take there cars the less-than-quarter-mile between the two.

It doesn't have to be that way, and it shouldn't be that way.

Why weren't both shopping areas designed so people could easily walk up to them and between them from the sidewalk? Why couldn't the parking be at the side or rear? The Trader Joe's in Brookline is designed like that, making it easy to walk there from other retail spots in the area. But here, the design only reflects considerations for traffic flow. There appears to be zero concern given to people who might want to walk there.

No comments:

Post a Comment