Good Sunday morning, everyone! As you go through the day today, think about how many times you walk or bicycle around town today. What is your main mode of transportation?
In May , 2004, my main mode of transportation became my feet. The "Shoeleather Express". The tranny on my car, the "Rolling Rat Trap" blew, and I did not have the money to repair it, nor did I care to. I made a decision years prior to never own a car again.
Today, we will look at one section of Springfield sidewalk and the daunting task
Springfield pedestrians, and pedestrians throughout the United States, face every day. This is a topic we will revist several times.
This particular sidewalk is on National Avenue, between Walnut and Elm.The width of the sidewalk from the outer edge of the curb to the wall is 51 inches. From the inside of the curb edge to the wall is 48 inches.
It is difficult for one person to walk along this stretch of sidewalk. Add another person and they often walk single file. Then add groceries or other packages and a difficult walk can become nearly impossible.
In addition, people with wheelchairs or mobility issues find it difficult to naviage this area. Missour State University, directly south of this intersection, uses this area for the Orientation and Mobility training for the teachers of the Visually Impaired. This section of sidewalk features numerous obstacles, including driveway curb cuts and light poles in the sidewalk itself.
The distance from one lightpole to the wall is 33 inches. Across National is a light pole with a guy wire anchored to the opposite end of the sidewalk from the light pole. The distance between the light pole and the guy wire is 39 1/4 inches. In addition, pedestrians must navigate between the pole and the guy wire.
And this is good weather! During the winter, these sidewalks are never, ever shoveled. Instead, snow and ice is piled up on the sidewalks by street plows and local businesses who clear their parking lots.
And this is when the sidewalk is open! During construciton on the roads, it is
not uncommon for the sidewalk to be "closed" and no safe alternative provided for pedestrians.
Solutions exist for this problem. The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation raises awareness and works tirelessly on legislation and information about safety and convenience issues for walkers and bicyclers.
The City of Springfield is working to improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. One tool available is Let's Go Smartwhich offers an online interactive map of bus routes, bike paths, and ways to get
around Springfield without a car.
In his "The General Theory of Walkability" TEDx talk, Jeff Speck provides exellent insight into ways to accommodate automobiles, bicycles and pedestrians. These ideas are well worth investigating and implementing. Let's do this! Let's Go Smart!