Just a bit of followup on pedestrian crossings. My wife and I went for a walk in yesterday’s rain and, once again, I was struck by the consistency with which pedestrian crossings are messed up.
The photo is of the southwest corner of the Taughannock Blvd.–Buffalo St. intersection. The bumpy surface for visually impaired people to orient themselves to the crossing was mostly submerged in a puddle that got its deepest right at the curb line. At the far side of the puddle was the broken pavement around the sunken manhole, providing an unknown depth of water. I presume that, by today, that water is frozen with some decorative snow on it to make it good and slippery.
As I noted in a previous post, this kind of corner crossing is not at all uncommon; I haven’t taken a methodical survey, but it seems to be pretty typical. How can that be? Road building is not an unknown technology. With modern surveying and building tools, it’s routine to build surfaces of predetermined pitch. How is it that water drains from all along the side of a road except where it messes things up for people on foot? Murphy’s Law, I suppose.
I dwell on this, first, because it bothers me that the public investment in curb cuts and such is so often undone by careless disregard for other, necessary features. It’s one thing when we don’t have money to build and maintain roads; but it’s scandalous to see recent, expensive work that has ridiculous shortcomings.
But, I dwell on these things also because I would like to see policies and practices encourage more people to walk or bike around town — for their health, for the environment, for the community contact, etc. To make that happen, it is essential that the community be an attractive place to do these things; it should be inviting and pleasant to go for a walk in Ithaca. When so many corner crossings have rubble and puddles, I marvel that anyone walks. And, when it snows, those corners are soon filled with ice and slush, often in a puddle.
We must demand better.