“Development is an endurance exercise with incremental improvements.”
– Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance of Indonesia
For pedestrians and bicyclists, many improvements come slowly and in small ways. And this can be frustrating. But as long as they’re coming consistently, then eventually a system will arise that is sensitive to and responsive to self-powered means of transportation.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still many big issues that I would like to see dealt with (like sidewalks between where kids live and where they have to walk to get to school), but I do find it heartening to fairly consistently see incremental improvements around town that at least remind me that the City is working on filling in gaps, improving safety, and creating complete streets.
Three such incremental infrastructure infill projects came to my attention this past week. They’re all in the residential neighborhood just north of campus, where pedestrians and bicyclists are common. A new sidewalk has been added where previously there was only grass on the southwest corner of Myrtle and Loomis. A pedestrian crossing light has been added at the crosswalk on Mulberry near the Mulberry Pool. (I’ve complained about that crosswalk in particular just recently.) And a bikeway has been signed through this area.
Unfortunately, until the light is working, it seems even more dangerous to cross here than before the lights were put up. I crossed here Sunday morning and after watching while many cars passed by, one finally stopped to let me cross. The gal in the lane next to him, however, didn’t stop, and came within a few feet of me. (I slowed to make sure she was going to stop. When she didn’t even slow down I started waving my arms and pointing to the pedestrian crossing. She just zipped on past me.) I think this driver really had no sense of how crosswalks work, but it’s possible that with the lights in place, but not yet working, motorists now assume that pedestrians should only be crossing while the lights are operating (without realizing that they don’t operate at all yet).
You’ll note that there’s no way to activate the light from the north side of Mulberry. Hopefully a button will be added soon. The crosswalk signs are also still covered.
Despite the added uncertainty with crossing at this crosswalk right now, the end result will hopefully be a much safer and more comfortable crossing in the future. I might just end up walking my dogs back and forth here, just to enjoy the thrill of using these sorely needed lights.
Throughout Old Town there are gaps in the sidewalk that drop pedestrians right into front and side lawns. For the most part this is more awkward than dangerous.
If I had to choose between a sidewalk going in here or a sidewalk going in where there are no sidewalks at all on a route towards a school, I’d go with the latter. But at least this is sidewalk where there didn’t use to be one.
Some new pieces of infrastructure are so subtle that they sneak up on you. I just noticed that Loomis has been signed as the Centre Bikeway. I have no idea how long the signs have been up, but this Sunday was the first I’d noticed them.
Bikeways are routes that tend to stick to streets that are either low use residential or that have bike lanes. The idea is that bicyclists of any skill and comfort level should be able to use them to get around town. The Fort Collins bikeways work similarly to our “super block” street system where there are several arterial north-south routes and several arterial east-west routes. But the bikeways avoid the motorized arterials and instead focus on giving that same level of connectivity, but sticking to safer, more comfortable routes.
Because these routes use a series of streets, rather than just one long arterial, the signs are an important component to making the bikeways findable and useable. Here’s a map that shows the Centre Bikeway that connects north and south Fort Collins.