Here's an interesting article from today's local newspaper:
Blair Stone Road is a four-mile, four-lane, brand new road in town
that, before construction started, only four people in town wanted.
Unfortunately, these four people were the City Comission. As
construction goes on, public attitude has improved: we "need" this
road because of the bad traffic on the other roads. The city's
information on the road can be found at:
There is currently a controversy about a part of the road that is
essentially complete but not yet opened. It's closed, and graffiti
artists are tagging the walls. Yet, the residents of nearby
neighborhoods don't want it to open yet, since cars will start using
the finished half and then shortcutting through the neighborhood. I
can tell you now, though, that once this road is done, city residents
who didn't want this extension and even had bumper stickers protesting
it will start using it and be glad it was opened.
Here's my favorite part about the whole thing: the road is pedestrian
"friendly", with 6-10 foot sidewalks on both sides. Yeah--and 15-foot
turn radii to boot, allowing vehicles to turn at 45 mph without
slowing down. I hate to say this, but most modern pedestrian/bike
facilities are used only for recreational bike rides and morning jogs.
I used to walk to work on a bike path behind my apartment heading
straight to my office during rush hour. I would encounter maybe one
other person on this walk, and it was usually a jogger. I was,
literally, the only person who used that path for actual "point A to
point B" transportation. I have a feeling that Blair Stone Road's
sidewalks will turn into practically abandoned concrete stretches with
maybe a user an hour. The university, in fact, recently finished a
massive bridge with two huge [12-24 feet wide] pedestrian underpass
tunnels. They have gone almost completely unused, and one of the
blind-corner convex security mirrors has already been smashed. You can
stand on that walkway, alone, and hear the traffic overhead.
Basically, there ARE pedestrian and bike improvements going on. The
only problem is, they (a) prioritize vehicular traffic, and (b) as
long as roads are built in parallel to the ped/bike facilities and
their use offered to drivers for free, we know what happens.
Just my two cents. I'm sure this happens in other American cities too.