Incomplete streets

Today I did it.  I crossed Highway-141 on foot, against all odds.   But first, some background information.

What is a complete street?

“Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street.”1

The streets around my office are perfect examples of incomplete streets.  At the intersection in question, I had to cross 4-6 lanes of traffic (depending on where I was in relation to the turning lanes) without the aid of a sidewalk, crosswalk, or pedestrian traffic signals.  I started my journey on a nice bit of sidewalk that quickly disappeared, leaving me to walk on the grassy and sharply angled side of the road, using a concrete drainage ditch as my “sidewalk” part of the way, and jumping over said ditch at other parts.

Once I reached 141, I decided it would be safer to cross before the intersection than crossing at the intersection, with cars turning every which way.  The only slightly redeeming feature was the grassy median between the east and west bound lanes, so I didn’t have to cross all the way at once.

As it happened, a police car was staked out on the shoulder of the road.  I walked right in front of it, wishing that the officer would have the nerve to say something to me about crossing the road.  I was quite ready with my righteous indignation at the absurdity of the situation and the lack of accommodations for anything other than motor vehicles.  Is it jaywalking if there’s no crosswalk or pedestrian signal in the first place?

Anyway, active forms of transportation, such as biking and walking, are great ways to meet people.  After I made it across, someone pulled over and asked me how to get to the mall (being new to these parts, I didn’t know).  The end result was that the guy gave me his number.  Now that wouldn’t have happened if I was in my car, would it?

This little adventure ended with me crossing back over 141, this time on the other side of the intersection, where I discovered that the median was still quite muddy from recent rains.  Oh, for want of a decent sidewalk!

1. For more information on Complete Streets, go to http://www.completestreets.org/

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