Monday, July 28, 2014

Hopeful for Better Pedestrian/Bike Access

The busiest intersection in Vermont.
I frequently navigate, cross, or ride the sidewalk beside this four lane highway. It connects to a shopping district and is the only route over an interstate, of which there's a cloverleaf style of on/off ramps - the nemesis of bike and pedestrian access. This region has been the bane of cycling advocacy for years. Band aid "green lanes" fill a block long section, but as with the nature of cloverleaf design butted to shopping centers, cross points double, creating dangerous pedestrian/cycling transportation. Most of the time I ride cautiously on the sidewalk.

I was hopeful to find road construction in early summer on a particularly dangerous section, leading to the cloverleaf. The sidewalk was a horrifyingly narrow 3 feet, bordering heavy traffic on one side and a hip high concrete wall on the other. Needless to say, pedestrians waiting for a bus vied with bicycles for minimal space. However, I often negotiated this sidewalk in both directions, favoring the lesser of two evils: it had less entrances/exits to be wary of.

Red marks construction zone.
The concrete wall is gone and heavy equipment operators are digging deep trenches. I stopped and chatted with a lady construction worker. Unfortunately, this whole mess will extend one exit ramp to alleviate traffic congestion back up onto the interstate. In the future, I'll have to cross five lanes of traffic to get to Staples Plaza. However, the worker confirmed the sidewalk will be put back against the treeline (in first photo). Whether it has a green strip buffer, this time around, or creates safer zones for cyclists, is anyone's guess. Construction is due to finish in November.

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