Sidewalk of the Week: Lexington Parkway and Selby Avenue

[The corner where Isiah Vinson was killed.]

This past week has seen a few too many tragic accidents involving cars hitting pedestrians, bicyclists, and each other.

It makes me think of the similarly tragic incident back in March, where a bunch of high school kids were goofing around and accidentally pushed one of their friends in front of a moving car on close to Saint Paul Central High School

A week or so after that accident, I happened across the Lexington Avenue sidewalk where the tragedy took place, and I found this memorial to mark the site.

In one way, this sidewalk is a rather surprising place for an accident like this. The pedestrian space is pretty wide, and separated from traffic lanes by a good tree-laden buffer zone. In addition, Lexington Parkway is a separated 'boulevard', with a pedestrian median in between the four lanes of traffic.

On the other hand, the width of the street, plus the separated two-lane treatment makes it easy for cars to speed pretty quickly along this stretch. People regularly exceed 40 mph on this road, and anything higher than 25 mph is enough to kill a pedestrian. (This is exactly why calming and medians are so important for places like Snelling Avenue.)

It just goes to show you that cars and people were not meant to physically interact, and that unless you slow cars down pretty dramatically, no street can ever really be safe for kids playing around.

[The makeshift memorial for Isaiah Vinson.]


Andy Singer said...

Except Lexington Avenue HAS medians! They were put in to "calm" traffic but actually speed it up and make the street more dangerous. This is because--
1. parking was partially eliminated in order to put in the median and parked cars protect pedestrians on high-speed boulevards.
2. Drivers drive slower when they have to face on-coming traffic and potential head-on collisions. The median eliminates this. There's absolutely no evidence that the median slowed vehicle speeds on Lexington and anecdotal evidence that they've increased speeds ...yet we are putting them in everywhere in the city (Marshall, Snelling, Grand and elsewhere). They also make cycling more dangerous or impossible and I am convinced their popularity is due to the fact that they are an expensive, concrete-intensive non-solution that doesn't reduce "Level of Service" for cars but creates jobs for Public Works. Stop signs, traffic lights or "Puffins" or other lighted pedestrian crossing treatments are much less expensive and much more effective at making large boulevards crossable.

Bill Lindeke said...

good point. But, i think the snelling ave medians will help, don't you?

anyway, you're right andy, of course. slowing traffic should be the only goal.

what are puffins?

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