Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Rant: Obsolescence

The Atlanta political environment has changed a lot over the past decades. At one time, the vision for the city was residential suburban enclaves, from which people would travel by motorcar over wide highways to shopping centers and office buildings, each with their own secured parking facilities. Of course, this vision did not include people of color or economically disadvantaged groups, who were left with crumbling infrastructure, "urban renewal," and industrial zoning in the historical parts of the city.

Fortunately, there were many people who had a different vision for Atlanta. They formed community groups and advocacy organizations and fought for improvements. They worked wonders for the city, and we owe them a great debt. They changed the political climate. However, not all of them changed themselves along with it. Some, like PEDS and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, have evolved through self-awareness or changes in leadership. Others have some issues.
The PATH Foundation has helped construct numerous city parks and multi-use paths with ready funding and inexpensive designs, which is great. Unfortunately, inexpensive, standardized designs don't always work in every application. So at risk of angering some people, today's rant is about the "West End Trail."
It is a shared pedestrian and bicycle facility, about 10 feet wide. Maybe 12. That means about 5 feet in each direction for all users, which is fine unless you have, say two pedestrians going in opposite directions, and a bicyclists. Then the cyclist has to slow considerable to navigate in between them. Children, dogs on leashes, multiple cyclists, etc. complicate the situation further. The path is next to a road that used to be 4 lanes, and was reduced to two lanes plus a two-way center turn lane. Here it is, baking in the heat of a Georgia July.

It runs between an industrial area and a neighborhood. A lot of the neighborhood streets were dead-ended at some point to create this road as a freight bypass. Traffic volume is extremely light. I had hoped it would reconnect the roads that were closed off, but it does not. Here is the curb that prevents you from getting onto the path from the abutting street. That's my beau posing on the path.

As you cruise along, you cross a number of driveways. There's only a 2 foot buffer between the path and the roadway, so the path slopes where it crosses the driveways. At speed, it reminds me of an amusement park ride - the "Cyclone" or something? Here is the beau avoiding a road construction sign and about to cross a driveway.

Finally, at either end, you wind up in a park. Parks are great. But when I am heading to and from the grocery store, I just want to keep going. That's not an option here! On the northwestern end, you can hop out on the road a block before without much problem. If you proceed into the park, though, there are no curb cuts at the next intersection. On the southeastern end, you are totally out of luck. No curb cuts for the last 1/4 mile or more. If you miss the last driveway, you either have to dismount and lift your bike over the curb into traffic, or weave around between some park benches and playing children until you reach a wheelchair ramp on the other side of the park, several blocks from where you were trying to go. Here is the beau about to enter the park. The road is still to the right.

I just stay off the path and take the road. It's easier and I don't get as angry.

No comments:

Post a Comment