Friday, September 5, 2008

Miracle Mile


I'm not exactly sure how to proceed with this one. I've largely ignored the southern half of Main Street through Willits, but it is what it is, and I should just face facts. I don't know what this stretch of road looked like before, but sometime in the middle of the last century, it was decided to widen Main to four lanes, with a center lane for turning. Along with the widening came automobile oriented businesses, including motels, drive-in fast foods, and auto supply and sales. It was laid out in an age when cars were "king of the road", and the wide unshaded swaths of hard pavement extended deep into the lots on either side of Main. Today, some of the heat and hard edges of cement and asphalt are mitigated with trees at odd intervals. But pedestrians are not what the developers had in mind, even though more recent attitudes have changed. The US flags line the street because it was Labor Day.

13 comments:

Laurie said...

I grew up in a part of Austin that developed just like this. I was in college before I realized that people actually lived in places where they could walk to get around.

I'm so glad to be in one of the walking-type places now!

This shot makes me sad, Elaine. Sigh.

Kelly said...

I think that sadly, there are stretches of road like this everywhere, lined with the kind of retail that makes me wonder what the world is coming to. I just love the odd juxtaposition of signs and symbols. Nicely done!

Halcyon said...

I think the array of signs are very interesting. I'm not sure what they want the wheelchairs to do, but it looks like they're being discriminated against. No mixing walkers and wheelchairs! :)

Virginia said...

I am confused too. I can envision myself standing there with a dazed look on my face trying to figure out where I need to be. Actually I am in that fix half the time as it is. Lost my car in a rather small parking lot yesterday. Too bad we don't have antennaes any more. I need a daisy. I kind of rambled off the subject -sorry. Guess your post was really thought provoking today!

Chuck Pefley said...

Lots of signs to decipher at 35 mph! I like the symmetry, however.

Jules said...

I like how you framed the street thru the sign posts - clever!!! I usually try to avoid them but they look great.

Palm Axis said...

visit at Pasadena Adjacent Wordpress is being a pill today.

All that signage is a bit much to take in at a glance. I'm thinking that's where the hazard lies.

USelaine said...

Laurie and Kelly - As much as I understand how people were thinking at the time, it makes me sad too. Like you say, K., it happened most places, and I needed to show that even idyllic Willits has such a stretch. I envy the places that have sonce redeveloped with people on foot and bike in mind.

Halcyon and Virginia - The confusion comes from the way I framed the shot, really. It's right in front of the McDonalds, and the wheelchair route is for their access to the fast food. The other pedestrian warning signs are for crossing the vast expanse of Main/Highway 101.

Chuck - Thanks. It looks like they are doing the best they can under the circumstances, without a traffic light, and without money for a safety island in the middle lane, etc.

Jules - Thanks to you too. I tried to photograph the Miracle Mile itself many times, from different positions on different days, but it always looked like nothing at all, so the signs (and Labor Day flags) were my salvation.

PA - I assure you, I have never tried walking across this street. It would be like flinging yourself off a bridge.

Thanks everyone!

Petrea said...

How'd you get the flag to wave in the right direction like that? You did a good job with something unattractive, making it a well-composed photo.

Is it about covering behinds because we're afraid of litigation?

Dina said...

America, yes. When I came back for a visit and drove the first time on those middle turning lanes with a car coming at me, it was scary.
Your post is a sign of the times, to think about.

Meead S. said...

A good point/lesson for transportation engineers ;) I'll tell my teachers.

Knoxville Girl said...

This could be Almost Anywhere, USA. This homogeny coupled with the isolation of everyone in their rolling metal pods makes me sigh (and not in a good way). You did a good job of framing here.
West Knoxville is like that - pedestrian dangerous, hard to navigate without a car. When I have to work out there (a few days a week), I feel trapped. Then I go home and cry.

USelaine said...

P - Thanks, the light breeze that day was doing wonders. It's sad people have to be reminded that pedestrians have the right-of-way. Folks have been hurt at this crossing. One woman was even critically injured walking along the sidewalk!

Dina - Those turn lanes can be tricky. But it helps people clear the way for drivers behind them while waiting for a break to the other side.

Meead - I'm sure you'll see many examples in Portland where they used to have this design, then reconstructed it for bikes and walkers. It is one of the more advanced cities, and great for your studies. Thanks for noticing. 8^)

KG - It's similar to living in a culture designed to make us overeat. Ours is designed to make us overdrive too. Development of buildings and roads has a profound effect on us - most people don't even think about all the optional choices that have been made to manipulate us, both for good and bad. Yeah, I worked in planning for a little while.