Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Pedestrian afterthought

On San Tomas, south of El Camino, a big sign says "Pedestrians Prohibited". A few feet past that sign is a bus stop.

At Fair Oaks and Arques, a sign on the sidewalk says "sidewalk closed, use other side". One problem - there is no sidewalk on the other side of the street.

On Fremont between Hollenbeck and Sunnyvale Saratoga. There is a median, however, there are plenty of turning cutouts. Even though there are turn lanes for eastbound traffic, none of these lanes lead to the school or churches on the north side of the street. The one that does actually go somewhere is blocked off. The only crosswalk is at Sunnyvale Saratoga. However, there are plenty of signs at the other good places to cross, saying "pedestrians, use crosswalk". So, its ok for pedestrians to go on a half mile detour, but not for cars to go more than a 1/4 of that distance before turning around.

U-Turns and 'landscaped medians'. There are plenty of 'parks' that are only accessible by motorists that have the misfortune of breaking down in the left name. Central Expressway has a large median. Sunnyvale-Saratoga, Fremont, and many others. In many cases, a narrow sidewalk is sandwiched between a wall and the street. The median could provide a refuge for crossing. However, there is often a raised surface to intentional make it difficult. And the intersections also get plenty of u-turn traffic, also posing a hazard. If they got rid of the median and instead had a landscaped parkway between the sidewalk and street, and a small pavement median in the middle, the pedestrian environment would be greatly improved. But that might encourage people to use walking as a means of transportation.

Oakmead improvements

At Oakmead and Arques I noticed a little white outline in the bike lane. Doesn't look like a loop detector, but it seems to trigger the lights properly. Yeah! The days of waiting endlessly for a car to show up are now over.

Something about Mary

Mary north of central is in office park land, so, of course, there is a large lawn median, thus requiring uturns to get to and from office parks, but hey, the median provides a nice refuge as you walk across from an office to lunch (and is one of the few green spots in the sea of asphalt.)

Mary is the only street in Sunnyvale that has a grade level intersection with both central and the railroad tracks. You would almost think it is a major street. And then you get to the El Camino intersection. As I was traveling on Mary I saw from a distance that the light was red. D'oh. It would probably turn green and complete its cycle before I got there. So I slowed down... But the light remained red. I got there. I waited and waited. Wow, even worse than one of the Lawrence lights... Ok, so maybe it isn't a major street.

Mary is primarily a residential street south of the Caltrain, and more so south of El Camino. However, that doesn't stop others from wanting to keep traffic on somebody else's street. Just south of El Camino, a street is marked as "not a through street". And some funky raised surface was there, to make it difficult to make a right turn on the street. (Oh... And it happens to get in the way of cyclists. But hey, its not much worse than a dark black miata.) So it looks like too many cars were going down one residential street to get to another residential street, so some residents got mad, and now force more cars to go down another section of a residential street.

...probably not in the original location

The Sunnyvale Historical Society is raising $1.6 million to reconstruct the "Murphy House". It was occupied by the founder of Sunnyvale, though it was demolished in 1961 for the building of central expressway. (this week only)