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!
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.