November 23, 2007

Crossing Route 9. The Friday after Thanksgiving. On foot.

Every year I find myself drawn to check out some stores on "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, just to see what's going on and soak up the scene. I rarely buy much, if anything, although usually pick up a couple of good deals. Today after picking up free-after-rebate software at Office Depot in Shoppers World, I poked my head into Best Buy (crowded), and decided I wanted to see what was doing at Circuit City. No way I was going to drive my car across Route 9 and back, not to mention attempt to park in their lot today. So, I figured I'd see if it's possible to .... walk across Route 9 on the Friday after Thanksgiving!

Rte. 9 Crosswalk   Turns out there's actually a halfway decent pedestrian crossing on Rte. 9 at the Framingham-Natick line. What's crazy is that you'd never know it when you're in Shoppers World. There's nothing that leads you from the parking lot to the sidewalk to the crosswalk. There's no visual cue when you're in the parking lot, that you can do anything else on foot except get back in your car and drive. Likewise, once you reach the sidewalk, it's clear you're not actually meant to walk on foot from the sidewalk into Shoppers World. The mall and the sidewalk are side by side, but totally disconnected. Everything about the streetscape says these are two separate worlds, and you're not meant to get from one to the other if you're a pedestrian (see photo below). It's insane. Then, you're walking along the sidewalk and there are several restaurants RIGHT THERE, TGI Friday's and Olive Garden, but no path to get from the sidewalk to the restaurant. It's the absolute worst of suburban planning: Even if you install a sidewalk, make it impossible to get from that sidewalk to any destinations abutting the sidewalk.

The Rte. 9 crossing itself wasn't bad, although it takes awhile. There's a usable separation in the middle of the road, so you don't have to dash across zillions of lanes of traffic at once. And, there are pedestrian crossing signals. There's a fairly long wait before you get the crossing light, which is understandable considering all the vehicular traffic passing through. My one nit is that there's a separate crossing signal for each side, and you've got to do the wait each time. Yet there's little reason why you'd only be crossing one half of Route 9 and then camping out indefinitely in the median.

Here's what I mean about the Route 9 sidewalk. The streetscape isn't as ghastly as much of Route 9 here - on one side is a nice line of trees (although there's no barrier between sidewalk and multiple lanes of traffic, which isn't good). However, it's clear you're not actually meant to be strolling the area to enjoy various commercial and retail sites within view, since there's no path to the restaurants and stores except walking across the grass.



  1. Sadly Natick has been allowing developers to remove their sidewalks along Rt. 9, further to the east.

    Where once it was possible to use Rt. 9 as a reasonable pedestrian route now it’s a series of jaunts through parking lots. While they’re at least cleared in the winter the customers aren’t expecting mere mortals to be ‘cutting through’ ‘their’ space.

    Indeed while iParty put up a fence & grass the new Mitchell+Gold has not only removed the sidewalk in front of their store but created a literal moat.

    Thus whenever I read about efforts in Natick to connect to Wellesley’s trails and such I gotta wonder how serious they are. The talk is of creating walking corridors and such, but Natick’s actions directly contradict this, they’re actively _removing_ walkways.

  2. [...] · { Natick, Roadside Aesthetics } { } Click on this link to an article by Sharon Gartenberg and then the interesting response. I’ve written more than a couple of times, about the [...]

  3. Sharon, the comment by Michael is bogus. The sidewalk in front of the furniture store is still there. And the subsequent comment is just an attempt by a Natick blogger to get more traffic to his blog. You can follow the link, make a comment, and then he will delete it if he doesn't agree with you. Sad. Natick is doing a lot to create, connect and improve its trails.

    All that said, this is an important subject and I'm glad Sharon has written about it - I'd be interested to know the Town of Framingham's take. We do need better ways to walk or cycle around the golden triangle, and developers should add this connectivity so it's not just about cars.

  4. [...] towns and take back our streets            Comment on Crossing Route 9. The Friday after Thanksgiving. On foot. by Michael Sadly Natick has been allowing developers to remove their sidewalks along Rt. 9, further to the [...]

  5. There are always questionable choices when it comes to streetscape and pedestrian improvements. The "Natick Resident" who wouldn't use his name in posting should stick to facts instead of personal comments and opinion about someone he disagrees with.

  6. I agree that there are always questionable choices and we should work from facts, but it's hard to debate these issues when people intentionally misrepresent the truth (Michael, first post) or spam other blogs to try and hijack the discussion. And having seen how Dave trashes people with whom he does not agree (the list is a long one), why would anyone use her real name for him to drag it through mud??

  7. More personal insults from the anonymous. I have an opinion.
    You clearly only express a personal grudge. The area around the Natick Mall is clearly pedestrian friendly while the area around Shoppers World is not. Natick special interests talk about the need for commuting from downtown to the Mall, meanwhile neglecting public transportation needs in the town budget. How disengenuous! Instead of spending lots of mall mitigation money on sidewalks the town could have used money for shuttle transport.

  8. 1. Natick Mall is in Natick; Shoppers World is in Framingham
    2. The Mall has a bus terminal as negotiated with the Natick Planning Board
    3. The town has funded the neighborhood bus for years
    4. There is no public transportation from Natick Center to the Mall
    5. The Town joined the RTA and will be expanding bus service to route 9 and townwide
    6. People use sidewalks to get to and from bus stops; it's not either/or
    7. mitigation funds can not be spent for operating expenses
    8. You crack us up when you accuse folks of having a personal grudge!

  9. For kicks do this once, walk from 50 speen st, Framinghan to the Natick Collection Mall, I do it a lot and it's challenging to say the least, I'd go as far as saying it's imposibble for a handicap person, even though its only 0.5 mile walk:
    1. There is no sidewalk on the side of the office buildings nor pedestrian light to cross speen st
    2. sidewalks abrubtly ends just before cochiuate st
    3. You always almost get in trouble crossing cochiuate st, because cars turn on you without seeing pedestrians
    4. Path in front of home depot is full of ice and is full of crazy twists, no roads are built winding like that, its nuts, walking is plenty exercise as it is, no need to add pain

    Only good part is last 30yds in front of nordstrom, then try crossing route 9 next when leaving...., I won't go there just now.

    Report back to me when you done this in rush hour at 5.30pm when it dark and if still alive let me know what you think?

  10. oops... I posted above that "there is no public transportation from Natick Center to the Mall." What a difference a "w" makes. There is NOW public bus service between the Mall and Natick Center, which says something good about the town's budget.

  11. This regards the original article and in particular Shoppers World. I stopped shopping there many years ago. Initially it was more a protest to the destruction of the wonderful community center/ shopping plaza that stood there from 1951-1995. Later it was due to the terrible layout of the place and how time-consuming it can be if one desired to shop several of the stores there. It's dangerous to walk, especially in icier weather. It's not a terribly safe drive either and parking is time-consuming and at times dangerous.

    The only establishments in the entirety of Shoppers World that I ever patronize anymore are the Massport Logan Express station and John Harvard's because it is so unique and full of local color. But I wish both were located elsewhere.

  12. The irony is, many parts of the original Shoppers World layout are now on the cutting edge of retail planning again -- town square type of environment, outdoor center where you can easily walk around, and so on. The current layout was a terrible mistake, you can't even walk from one part to another without dealing with dangerous traffic. But as long as people are attracted to stores like Best Buy and Barnes & Noble (and I am), the owners will think it works.