Friday, February 13, 2015

Snowden River Parkway Blues

Why did the Lincoln Tech student cross the road?

No, this is not a joke. I mean really, why? There's this big parking lot in front of Lincoln Tech, and it's full of cars. Why on earth are all those people trying to cross Snowden River Parkway? Why don't they just get in their cars and drive like normal people?

It's a strange phenomenon. Around midday you see them. Clumps of people by the side of the road, waiting for their chance. Therre's no traffic light, no crosswalk, in fact there's no sidewalk at all. The median strip isn't even a level playing field here; it's a grassy slope at quite an angle. Even if you make it up to the midpoint and scale the hill, you still have to clamber over the traffic barrier and cross the other side of traffic on Snowden.

Why would anyone do that? Why would anyone do that every day?

To get lunch, I suspect.

Maybe some of those students don't have cars. Is it possible that some arrive by bus or are dropped off by others because they don't have their own transportation? Or maybe some of them have the crazy idea that it's a completely normal thing to walk across the street to pick up lunch. There's a deli right there, also an Indian restaurant and a bakery. Why not, right?

Why not? Because this is Columbia where pedestrians are meant to meander on lovely pathways in natural settings. Cross the street to buy lunch? How plebian. Or perhaps I should say outré. It just isn't done.

Except it is. (See above.)

I know there was a Market Study commissioned by the Columbia Association, and this area, referred to as "GEDS", was included. Was there any consideration of Walkability as a part of this study? It is my understanding that the study was focused on commercial viability. Is how customers arrive at a place of business a part of commercial viability?

So, back to our students crossing the road. I commend them. First, for pursuing training to become qualified for employment. Second, for patronizing local businesses. Third, for believing it's okay to walk to get your lunch. But, please, can we get these folks some electric-yellow jackets and hard-hats to make their crossing somewhat less hazardous? We all know there's no such thing as a free lunch, but you shouldn't have to take your life in your hands to buy it.

Say, maybe this is a place for one of Bill Woodcock's Big Ideas for Columbia. Gondolas, anyone?


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