Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Stair Structure Squeezes Sidewalk

For some inexplicable reason, the designer of these stairs had the decorative side structure stick out two feet into the sidewalk.

This is, of course, a serious tripping hazard that should have been caught by any safety review of the plans and blueprints.

In addition, even if no one ever trips over the obstruction, it still significantly narrows the sidewalk.  To make matters worse, its placement directly across from a tree pit creates a pinch point.  Apologists might say that the space still meets the minimum requirements of the ADA.  People who care about pedestrians say that it is a totally unnecessary degradation of the pedestrian environment.

Spring 2018 Update.  There are five of these structures at this location.  Four of them have been cut back a foot, reducing the hazard a bit, as seen in this photo.  For some unknown reason, the one in the original photo was not cut back, and continues to stick two feet into the sidewalk.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Woodmont Avenue Signage -- FAIL

Suppose you are on Bethesda Avenue in Bethesda, Maryland, and you ask for directions to the Bethesda Metro Station, about a ten minute walk away.

You might be told to walk north on Woodmont Avenue to Edgemoor Lane, and then turn right.  After two blocks (at Hampden Lane), Woodmont Avenue becomes one way southbound.

Is the next street Edgemoor Lane?

You have no idea.  The street name signs only face the southbound automobile traffic.

You look off to the right, and can't see anything.  You don't know that the accessible elevator entrance to the Metrorail Station is just two blocks down Montgomery Lane.  So you keep walking north.

At the next corner (North Lane, which is labeled), a small sign for Metro points toward this hodgepodge of driveways and passageways.  This could get you to the buses and the Metrorail escalator, but you would have to climb stairs, so it's not an accessible route.

You continue on to the next intersection, still hoping to find Edgemoor Lane.  Once again, pedestrians cannot tell where they are because the signs only face the southbound automobile traffic.

You look off to the right.  Could that be the Metro station?

Does Montgomery County design for pedestrians or for automobiles?  On Woodmont Avenue, in the heart of downtown Bethesda, the design for the street name signs doesn't even include pedestrians as an afterthought.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Trails Under Power Lines

A deer crosses the Lake Country Trail in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.

For other examples of trails under power lines, see the Gallery of Power Line Right-Of-Way Trails.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Cycle Track Signage - FAIL

The N Street Cycle Track in Lincoln is the first protected bikeway in Nebraska.  A planted buffer separates the two-way bicycle traffic from automobile parking and automobile traffic.

Features include protected places for turning bicyclists to wait for a green signal on the cross street.

The bikeway also has exclusive bicycle signals to prevent conflicts with turning cars.

But what about wayfinding?  Can bicyclists see the street name signs?

N Street is one-way westbound.  An eastbound bicyclist can only see the backs of the street name signs because they are only designed for motor vehicles.

It is astonishing that all the planners, designers, engineers, and consultants could go through the entire process of rebuilding the street and adding paint and signals, and never stop to think about something as simple as letting bicyclists know the name of the street they are about to cross.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pathways and Signs in Regina

Suppose you have just visited the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina.

And you go for a walk on the Wascana Park Pathway along the lake.

And you come to a street.  Where are you?

You don't know.  The street name signs are all directed towards drivers, not towards trail users.

Wayfinding for trail users is often inferior.  Even simple things like the names of cross streets are often left out.

Peds and Transit - Calgary

Rather than drive downtown from my motel to the Walk21 conference and have to worry about traffic and parking, I decided to take Calgary's light rail system, the CTrain.  It's a 10 minute walk from the station to my motel.  Conditions start good, but then go rapidly downhill.

Leaving the CTrain Banff Trail Station.

Taking the crosswalk.

A nice wide sidewalk, despite the obstructions.

The sidewalk narrows.

Very wide driveways and parking lots.

An even narrower sidewalk, with shrubbery encroaching.

The sidewalk turns to mud.

Landscaping fills the sidewalk space, sending pedestrians through the parking lot.

Another bit of narrow sidewalk.

A muddy goat path along the desire line.

Multiple dirt paths as pedestrians try to avoid the mud.

A sidewalk of pavers by a fast food restaurant provides a break from the mud.

A hodgepodge of driveways, parking lots, and odd bits of pavement.

More mud.

Some ankle-breaking boulders, followed by some decent flagstones.

One final stretch of boulders as I arrive at my motel.

A ten minute walk can be a pleasant little journey, or a miserable ordeal.  Would this infrastructure encourage you to walk to the CTrain station?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Bench Placement - FAIL

The Norwood Bridge over the Red River in Winnipeg has two types of railings -- a metal railing along most of its length, and a stone railing where the sidewalk bumps out.

The metal railing is mostly transparent, and would allow someone sitting on a bench next to it to enjoy the view.

However, the benches are at the bumpouts, which could be a good place to relax and enjoy the view of the river.  Except . . . . 

The stone railings at the bumpouts are mostly opaque, so anyone sitting on the benches will have a very poor view of the river.