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Old 12-26-2012, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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This one in Eastern Las Vegas is pretty bad. The fact that a sidewalk does exist here suggests that someone thought there might be pedestrians here, and that the place should be made safe for them... but then forgot about that and designed the sidewalk with no consideration for pedestrians.

Las Vegas, NV, United States - Google Maps

First of all, you have a 7 lane arterial road with maybe 80ft of asphalt, and a small sidewalk. There is nothing in between the sidewalk and the traffic, not even a shoulder, and nothing in between the sidewalk and the big wall. That means you're stuck between a wall and high speed traffic within arm's reach. You can't even go off the sidewalk to distance yourself from the traffic since the wall is in the way.

To add insult to injury, they've plopped the poles for street lights right in the middle of the sidewalk. You might be able to make your way around them if it's just you on your two feet, but what about a mother with a stroller, or a senior with a walker heading to the bus stop? I'm not convinced they would be able to fit between the pole and the wall, and these represent two demographics that I think are among the least likely to have access to a car (single mothers and seniors). So what are they expected to do? Manoeuvre around the poles by going onto the road every 100 ft? A stroller with toddlers can be quite heavy, and getting it on and off the sidewalk can be a bit complicated, especially with the curb. It's also quite a bit more difficult to push it on/off the sidewalk if the stroller is parallel to the road, so maybe you'd have to push it straight into the road (perpendicular, as if you're about the cross it)? That would mean you'd likely have to go well onto the road, not just on the edge of it. And if you're a senior with a walker, these sorts of manoeuvres are going to be difficult too, you don't move very fast, and you might trip or sprain your ankle going up and down the curb.

You'd better hope that any car going in the right lane is able to make a lane change (in Toronto at least, it can be difficult during rush hour) to get out of your way, or break in time. I'm not sure how fast people would be going here, the speed limit is 35 mph for most of the road, but the road looks like it was designed for 50mph... so I wouldn't be surprised if people were going well above the limit, which means they'd take a lot of distance to stop. You better not be out there in the night too, since a driver will take longer to see you. You better hope the driver is not drunk, or very old with slow reflexes too.

It looks like there's also a school nearby, with a school crossing, so kids are expected to walk to school in this area. Near the school crossing, the speed limit is also supposed to be reduced to 25mph, but again I wonder how many people will go at that speed when the road looks like a speedway.

Last edited by memph; 12-26-2012 at 11:53 AM..
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,110,077 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memph View Post
This one in Eastern Las Vegas is pretty bad. The fact that a sidewalk does exist here suggests that someone thought there might be pedestrians here, and that the place should be made safe for them... but then forgot about that and designed the sidewalk with no consideration for pedestrians.

Las Vegas, NV, United States - Google Maps

First of all, you have a 7 lane arterial road with maybe 80ft of asphalt, and a ~3ft sidewalk. There is nothing in between the sidewalk and the traffic, not even a shoulder, and nothing in between the sidewalk and the big wall. That means you're stuck between a wall and high speed traffic within arm's reach. You can't even go off the sidewalk to distance yourself from the traffic since the wall is in the way.

To add insult to injury, they've plopped the poles for street lights right in the middle of the sidewalk. You might be able to make your way around them if it's just you on your two feet, but what about a mother with a stroller, or a senior with a walker heading to the bus stop? I'm not convinced they would be able to fit between the pole and the wall, and these represent two demographics that I think are among the least likely to have access to a car (single mothers and seniors). So what are they expected to do? Manoeuvre around the poles by going onto the road every 100 ft? A stroller with toddlers can be quite heavy, and getting it on and off the sidewalk can be a bit complicated, especially with the curb. It's also quite a bit more difficult to push it on/off the sidewalk if the stroller is parallel to the road, so maybe you'd have to push it straight into the road (perpendicular, as if you're about the cross it)? That would mean you'd likely have to go well onto the road, not just on the edge of it. And if you're a senior with a walker, these sorts of manoeuvres are going to be difficult too, you don't move very fast, and you might trip or sprain your ankle going up and down the curb.

You'd better hope that any car going in the right lane is able to make a lane change (in Toronto at least, it can be difficult during rush hour) to get out of your way, or break in time. I'm not sure how fast people would be going here, the speed limit is 35 mph for most of the road, but the road looks like it was designed for 50mph... so I wouldn't be surprised if people were going well above the limit, which means they'd take a lot of distance to stop. You better not be out there in the night too, since a driver will take longer to see you. You better hope the driver is not drunk, or very old with slow reflexes too.

It looks like there's also a school nearby, with a school crossing, so kids are expected to walk to school in this area. Near the school crossing, the speed limit is also supposed to be reduced to 25mph, but again I wonder how many people will go at that speed when the road looks like a speedway.
I'm not trying to invalidate the point being made, but I do think a stroller can make it around on the right side of those poles. But yes, very poor sidewalk design.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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I guess the wide road makes the sidewalk look narrower than it really is, so a walker or single stroller would fit. A double stroller would be a tight squeeze though...

Does anyone who's been in places like that in that part of the US (ideally Las Vegas) know how fast people actually drive on those sorts of roads? Around here, the speed limit on these would be 37mph, but it would not be uncommon for people to drive as far as 50mph.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:27 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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Likely the road and poles went in a long time before the walk and the road/poles are at the outside edge of the right of way. Then you had someone (or a group of someones) complain and ***** and moan about not having a sidewalk and the municipality obliged and put one in within the existing parameters, The same thing happened where I live (without the 7 lane road, just residential streets).
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:28 PM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memph View Post
I guess the wide road makes the sidewalk look narrower than it really is, so a walker or single stroller would fit. A double stroller would be a tight squeeze though...

Does anyone who's been in places like that in that part of the US (ideally Las Vegas) know how fast people actually drive on those sorts of roads? Around here, the speed limit on these would be 37mph, but it would not be uncommon for people to drive as far as 50mph.
There are neighborhoods in my hometown with streets that wide - I'd say 50 is not out of the question.

I was just there this weekend and drove down this road (though the sidewalks and street design are much better than that Vegas example IMO): santa maria, ca - Google Maps

More from that street: santa maria, ca - Google Maps (why on earth is the sidewalk against the road with all that open space to the left? I bet when people do walk they just use the dirt path).

This road is sort of an "expressway bypass" to the main N/S road to the east, on which traffic probably never gets much faster than 30 because of traffic.
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Old 12-26-2012, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,761,439 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
Likely the road and poles went in a long time before the walk and the road/poles are at the outside edge of the right of way. Then you had someone (or a group of someones) complain and ***** and moan about not having a sidewalk and the municipality obliged and put one in within the existing parameters, The same thing happened where I live (without the 7 lane road, just residential streets).
I'm not so sure about that, looking around Las Vegas, major roads with development around them seem to all have sidewalks. I don't think it's reasonable to built a major arterial like that with homes nearby and not have a sidewalk. It's not like when you have residential side streets where it's much less dangerous to walk on the street or shoulder/grass and you can do make without sidewalks. The same thing happened in my hometown where a residential street got sidewalks when it previously didn't have any.

My guess is that when it was decided to built new neighbourhoods out there, what was previously a very minor concession road (like this Las Vegas, NV - Google Maps) was upgraded to a major 7 lane arterial with sidewalks and street lights all in one go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by munchitup View Post
There are neighborhoods in my hometown with streets that wide - I'd say 50 is not out of the question.

I was just there this weekend and drove down this road (though the sidewalks and street design are much better than that Vegas example IMO): santa maria, ca - Google Maps

More from that street: santa maria, ca - Google Maps (why on earth is the sidewalk against the road with all that open space to the left? I bet when people do walk they just use the dirt path).

This road is sort of an "expressway bypass" to the main N/S road to the east, on which traffic probably never gets much faster than 30 because of traffic.
Toronto's suburbs are similar, there's usually a grass strip to buffer from the road, and poles are placed in the grass strip, not in the sidewalk.
Ex: http://goo.gl/maps/RyLP3

Sometimes there's multi-use trails instead of a sidewalk, which might come up to the road, but you can still walk on the left side of the multi-use trail and be pretty far from traffic.

For some reason, many of the arterials in Las Vegas seem to have the relatively narrow sidewalk right next to the road. I wonder if it was really neccessary to have 7 lanes too, if the road was built with only 6 lanes, you could have a grass buffer. Do roads like East Bonanza really have so much traffic that 6 lanes isn't enough? Even where there was room for landscaping in Las Vegas, I found several instances where it was placed between the wall and sidewalk, and the sidewalk was still right next to the road.

Last edited by memph; 12-26-2012 at 01:23 PM..
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:02 PM
 
Location: Michigan
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I often see problems with sidewalks in areas that are relatively dense/established.

Example:
Google Maps

1) The cafe takes up a good amount of space
2) There's no bike lane in the road
3) It's a busy road where people often drive 50 MPH (although they lowered it to 35 for speed traps)
4) Bikers and pedestrians are forced to share this narrow passage way.

Not good at all. This area has a lot of sidewalks with guard rails and concrete barriers. But I wonder if that really is supposed it any safer for the pedestrian.

Google Maps

The problem occurs because these used to be much thinner roads. As traffic increased, they widened the roads with the sidewalk getting the least amount of space. I personally haven't seen this problem in newer developed neighborhoods (where speed limits tend to be higher).

Google Maps

Google Maps
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Old 12-26-2012, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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It's the height of the Streetview camera rigs that make them look so small. Look at it compared to the lane of road. It's at least the minimum 5' sidewalk required by code plus the 18" gutter at any rate. Cars don't drive on the gutter, usually three feet over if not more, so even walking on the very edge of the sidewalk, only someone who is nine feet tall would be within arm's reach. The light pole placement is bad, otherwise it's just not pretty for people that aren't used to deserts. A couple feet grass strip is going to do exactly nothing to stop a car if it hops the curb.

Plus road verges are expensive to install and maintain, usually maintained by the city or more commonly in America by HOAs. Here's a typical arterial in Summerlin, an affluent, master-planned community in the Las Vegas area:
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=summe...2,1.11,,0,1.94

Someone's paying for all that lawn mowing, tree and shrub pruning, the water used for watering the sidewalk and running off into the street... Looks nice, but it's hardly the concrete bunker necessary to provide any real safety from an out-of-control car hopping the curb and mowing down pedestrians left and right.
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Old 12-26-2012, 05:06 PM
 
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The California minimum sidewalk is 4 feet, though most places try to provide more.

The planting strip between the roadway and the sidewalk can provide a barrier in the form of plants. More importantly, it's a psychological barrier that makes people willing to walk in the first place.

One problem in these kind of suburbs is that there actually aren't enough roads. To save money, developers and municipalities don't build local streets so huge amounts of traffic get funneled onto these massive high speed roads. Future subdivisions need to be built with more of a local road network or, alternatively, a bike/ped pathway network (though those can raise personal safety concerns).

A related problem is the walls around those subdivisions. Those walls mean that you can't come out of the subdivision (via any mode) near where you live, you've got to go a long way to the exits. That's really bad if you're walking, not good if you're riding a bike or trying to catch a bus. If subdivisions at least had cut throughs, if not streets, this problem could be solved.

I frankly hope we don't see too many more places like this getting built, but if they are they could be better.
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:22 AM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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That looks like a pretty common street out in the 'burbs here. We do usually have bike lanes which keeps cars further from pedestrians. Usually the speed limit is 40-45 mph, people usually do 5 over that. And yes, they do find a way to slow down enough when the school zone lights are flashing. We have steep penalties for speeding there just like any place with lower limits. I have never seen one quite as bad as that with the light poles directly in the sidewalk but usually there is no buffer between the sidewalk and road. This is a typical 5 lane road, but there are many 7 lane roads as well. https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-...&ved=0CKgBELYD

The limited access to the subdivisions allows the speed limits to be so high, otherwise it would likely have to be 35 mph and many more traffic lights installed. That is usually paid for by the developer so it's not surprising they try to limit street access.
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