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The plight of bikes or pedestrians in East Memphis

East Memphis (White Station area) and Germantown are supposed to be real nice areas, at least that what the real-estate agents say.  So in a followup to my post yesterday about the Wolf River Greenway and it's problems with access and connectivity, I thought I might share a couple images.

When walking or biking around this area, you not only have to deal with drivers who either don't see you or don't care that you are there - you have to deal with obstacle course built environments.  These pictures are from a street which connects a large (and fancy) residential area to a bunch of retail including pubs, grocery stores, shops, and restaurants.

Where to start with that one...  How about the debris on the right of the sidewalk, the loose gutter cover on the left side of the sidewalk - followed by the fire hydrant (painted a dull poorly visible concrete-like color) in the middle.  If you make it past that there is a electric pole on the left half of the sidewalk and overgroen trees covering the right.  Pay no attention to the truck parked just past the "No Parking this block" sign.

Then we come up on a wonderful ADA curb cut.  With beautiful gardening in the way.  How does this even happen?  When paving the sidewalk (which looks to have been recently re-poored) how do you not have it go over to the curb cut?  Who looks at that and signs off saying it is OK?  Sure this isn't a problem for pedestrians, or people with most strollers.  But for any road/street bikes who can't jump curbs and any wheelchairs this is a disaster.

Well, tough to fit to the right of those cables with the wall right there, so we swing left.  Look out, another poorly colored fire hydrant and telephone pole blocking almost the entire sidewalk.  Where do you go but out into the street into traffic?
Imagine trying to navigate these on a bicycle or with wobbly kids on bicycles, or with kids on tagalongs or in trailers.  Even just normal walking is annoyin through these obstacles, but try to see if a person with a stroller could make it through easily - or even worse think of a person in a wheel chair.

This simple two block section of a street's built environment for bicycles and pedestrians shows how we simply neglect our non-motorized transportation options for the sake of the auto.  In any of these situations, a bike+ped user would be forced into the street - a large and reasonably busy 4 lane street with no extra clearance.  Usually, drivers would get mad and if an unfortunate accident were to occur much of the blame would probably fall on the bike or pedestrian who was forced into traffic by a terrible sidewalk condition.

If you want people to walk more, or bike more - and you want people to enjoy their neighborhoods without simply driving out of them - you have to not allow things like this to happen.  I am not talking about spending tons of taxpayer dollars on new bike paths or bridges and all that junk - I am simply pointing out how just not making a few small mistakes could improve the built environment for all bikes+peds without much cost at all.

Unfortunately situations like these are all too common across most of America.  No one would allow you to have a telephone pole blocking 1/4 of a street lane, or driveways where you have to drive over the curb because there is no curb cut...  Yet this happens all over the place to bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure.   Our world should be built for people - not for cars.  Cars should be simply a tool to help us get around - not the center of our urban design.


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