Friday, July 15, 2011

How do you get to your bus stop?

There is a very good reason why transit service providers and transit advocates need to get more involved in the discussion regarding pedestrian safety and access. You can design a transit system that provides service with less than a mile from most areas with high population concentration, yet if pedestrians cannot get to it safely then it will be useless.
The issue went beyond pedestrian safety, as shown by this story about a mother from Georgia who was convicted of vehicular homicide this week for having to cross the street with her children in an unmarked place, as Tania Snyder details in the Streetsblog Capitol Hill.
Fortunately, compared to Marietta, GA, our own Pittsburgh is quite safe for pedestrians, according to this Transportation for America study. But it may not remain as safe as we used to know for long if we do not request safe pedestrian access for every new development, for every transit stop. It is our right as pedestrians, and if we are to insist on the matter, we shall see positive results.
Look at this bus shelter on an isolated patch of grass. Beyond it stretches a newly built parking lot and shopping center. Located on Freeport Road, the bus stop is served by four routes - 1 Freeport Road (7 days per week), and 78, P16, P78 (on weekdays). Yet in spite of being in place before Target built its new store and adjacent parking lot in 2006-2007, there was no effort to build a pedestrian pathway or sidewalk from the shopping center to the shelter until very recently. And, since it is Target and not the Port Authority of Allegheny County which has the right of the way, it is only Target which can build those pathways and/or sidewalks.
Picture credit: Michael Sypolt

However, after the picture above was posted on ACTC’s Facebook page and led to an animated discussion on the issue, we were able to contact the Port Authority. Soon we were informed that after receiving numerous complaints, they had contacted Target and the store’s management committed to build the proper pedestrian access. About a month and a half later, there was a sidewalk along Freeport Road, a pedestrian pathway across the parking lot, and access ramps by the most recent ADA Title II standards.

Picture credit: Michael Sypolt

And if we end up asking ourselves how hard was it to provide pedestrian access to the Freeport bus shelter from our story, the answer should be – as hard as we want to make it.

Picture credit: Michael Sypolt

Picture credit: Michael Sypolt

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