Despite the warning to motorists about deaf and blind children, this roadside area, like those in many locations across the US, neglects to provide continuous sidewalks. How are blind children supposed to find a safe route in surroundings of this sort?
In the fourth of a series of articles about walking and American life, writer Tom Vanderbilt surveys the obstacles that stand in the way of pedestrians.
• Roads designed solely for motor vehicles.
• The absence of sidewalks along many roads.
• Sidewalks that, when they're present, butt up against the road, exposing pedestrians to fast-moving vehicles.
• The scarcity of safe, convenient, well-marked crosswalks along heavily traveled roads.
• Cul-de-sacs, which provide a degree of safety but at the expense of a convenient network of streets.
• The failure to install "pedestrian infrastructure" such as comfortable sidewalks when an area is first being developed.
• Limited funds. “In 2009, about 2.0 percent of federal-aid surface transportation funds were used for pedestrian and bicycle programs and projects," says Barbara McCann, director of the national Complete Streets advocacy organization. "However, those two modes are estimated to account for almost 12 percent of all trips and represent more than 13 percent of all traffic fatalities.”
Vanberbilt's lengthy article shows how many of conditions that impede pedestrians—such as the move of retailing to busy roads bordered by parking lots—evolved over decades. He quotes many of the individuals who have been pushing for more humanistic designs: among them, transportation engineers Walter Kulash, Ian Lockwood, and Peter Lagerway; Rochelle Dicker, a surgeon trying to reduce pedestrian injuries in San Francisco; and researcher Stephanie Rosenbloom.
• Subscribe to Better! Cities & Towns to read all of the articles (print+online) on implementation of greener, stronger, cities and towns.
• See the March 2012 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. Topics: Traffic congestion, Zoning, DOT mainstreams livability, HUD's Sustainable Communities, Transit-oriented development, TOD tips, Form-based codes, Parking minimums, New classical town, Urban retail, James H. Kunstler, Placemaking and job growth, Maryland's smart growth.
• Get New Urbanism: Best Practices Guide, packed with more than 800 informative photos, plans, tables, and other illustrations, this book is the best single guide to implementing better cities and towns.
• See the January-February 2012 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. Topics: Value capture and transit, Social networks aid downtown, Live smaller, Rentals are market key, Streetcar inspiration, Box building, Civilizing suburbs, Alley houses, Sprawl repair, Healthy communities, Funding for infrastructure, Chicago River reversal.
• See the December 2011 issue of New Urban News. Wall Street and urbanism, streets to plazas, Sustainable Communities grants, Choice Neighborhoods, TIGER grants, buyers prefer smart growth, protecting historic buildings, public health and planning, redevelopment in Georgia, Ecovillages, parklets.
• See the October-November 2011 issue of New Urban News. Topics: HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods; Parking reform, transit-oriented parking policy, Obama vs. Congress, West Virginia town revitalizes, suburb remakes its center, ecological dividend, cul-de-sac makeover, thoroughfare manual, and much more.
• See the September 2011 issue of New Urban News. Topics: Walk Score, sprawl retrofit, livability grants, Katrina Cottages, how to get a transit village built, parking garages, the shrinking Wal-Mart, Complete Streets legislation, an urban capital fund, and much more.