There Are Many Pieces to the Transit Puzzle

Via Twitter, I recently saw of the picture below from Brandon Stone:

This picture shows the end of a sidewalk on Decker Lake Blvd.

This picture shows the end of a sidewalk on Decker Lake Blvd. It was taken by Brandon Stone

Stone explained the situation in a couple of tweets:

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.23.21 PM

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.23.28 PM

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams responded to Stone’s tweets, so hopefully things will get better in the future.

But in the meantime, this spot is a perfect example of a space that is antagonistic to people. I’m left wondering what the designers of this street were thinking and how they expected people — as opposed to cars — to get around. Unfortunately, however, they probably never even considered people.

As a result, brave commuters like Stone are forced to navigate legitimately dangerous situations. I’ve written many times about accidents on this blog — most recently in November — and a spot like this seems designed to encourage them. Whoever made it should face criminal charges.

This situation also emphasizes the problems of an incomplete transit system. If I understand things correctly, Stone was taking transit but couldn’t safely walk from the station to his destination. That’s sure to discourage other transit riders and makes me wonder why we’ve invested all this money in light rail if we’re not actually going to connect it to anything. This must change.

This situation also shows that we’re not thinking of transit correctly. Based on Stone’s experience I’d say the system was designed to shuttle drivers from place to place — or parking lot to parking lot — thereby making car trips shorter. In other words, transit is being treated as a partial replacement to driving. It’s supplemental.

A better approach — and an obvious one when destinations are so close to stations — is to treat it as a complete replacement for driving. That’s a distinction I wrote about in this post, and we’re really quite close here.

In any case, until these kinds of situations change we’re throwing away money on infrastructure, creating ugly places that few people will use and, most importantly, make it difficult and dangerous to get around. Why would anyone want to do that?

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