Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Streetwalking

North Bay Village should be walker's dream site, with its quiet streets, views of the bay and small town feel. But take it from me, a lifelong walker, it's not.

Harbor Island and North Bay Island lack an essential for any urban walker - sidewalks. There are none. When they were planned, I guess it was assumed that everyone would be driving everywhere. Harbor Island in particular with its high density housing needs wide, properly maintained sidewalks. How can people even get to the park if they have to walk in the middle of the street traffic?

On the Kennedy Causeway right now where all the work is going on, here's what a walker from North Bay Island on the south side encounters. At the entrance to North Bay Island heading east on the south side, there's a sign "Sidewalk Closed". If you are a law abiding pedestrian, you might cross over to the north side, obeying the traffic lights and cross walks, this is a three step process and will not work out.

Step 1 is head west across the intersection in the crosswalk. Step 2 is cross the JFK Causeway at the crosswalk and light. Step 3 is cross with the light going east. At each step, watch out for morons in SUV's who don't stop for pedestrians in the cross walk.

Now on the north side, walk along ducking the cars heading in and out of the Shell station. Get to the fire station and guess what? Another sign "Sidewalk Closed". No crosswalk for you to return to the south side.

Here are your options. Ignore the "Sidewalk Closed" sign and continue along the south side - your best bet. Or jaywalk through the JFK traffic to the other side. Not recommended.

And just east of the Sidewalk Closed sign, is the bus stop. Yes, people do take the bus. But there's no way to reach it if you plan to follow the rules.

Treasure Island is better but not great. Walking along the southside of the JFK Causeway, the pedestrian finds that the sidewalk is obstructed by power boxes, poles and overgrown shrubbery, leaving barely enough space for a normal sized adult to pass by, let alone a family or someone with a physical restriction.

The inside streets are better on Treasure Island but still, it's difficult to stay on the sidewalk as hedges overgrow the sidewalk, cars block the sidewalk, gates are left open and even columns intrude. South Treasure Drive is the worst. Usually, it's best to just give up and walk in the street.

We pay an urban planner. We approve new building projects all the time. We are planning a bay walk but this basic amenity, the ability to get from one place to another without a car, North Bay Village loses out.

If NBV does ever get the baywalk, let's get a way to get there too.

Kevin Vericker
October 5, 2010

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