Saturday, September 17, 2011

look both ways

One reason Florida leads the nation in pedestrian fatalities may be our poorly designed roads. But the streets don't (fail to) work in isolation. This photo shows a planted median between a Dadeland office building and the parking lot that serves it. The problem stems from the building's relationship to its site. The building is symmetrical, with a central entry leading out to the sidewalk, even though everyone exiting that door needs to walk to the corner to cross the street. The building's entry sequence simply doesn't take the connection to the parking lot into account, and as a result, people were crossing the street in mid-block, right in front of the entry.

Medians with plantings like this are popping up all over South Florida. They frequently use dense hedges as a kind of green fencing, which is a decent way to discourage people from jaywalking on roads like US 1. The palm trees are a real missed opportunity, though. As friend of tin box Gray Read points out, palms provide almost no shade, which is the amenity most needed by pedestrians on South Florida's hot streets.

n.b. On a related note, the Miami  Herald just published an article on the "best and worst intersections" in the region, based on the number of tickets issued by red-light cameras. Short version: be careful trying to cross US 1 in Coral Gables.

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