It is my experience that in Santa Clara County, walkability is missing from too many transit stations. For safety reasons, my wife and I make it a point of trying to understand the walking patterns around the places we go to via bus or train. The main pattern that I consistently see, is that all decisions appear to be in favor of the car. Walkability often does not seem to have been considered.
A new study by nonprofit transit advocacy group TransitCenter confirms a piece of conventional wisdom city dwellers have long known: If a transit stop is not within walking distance, it’s not likely to be used very often. The report is called Who’s On Board, and, by forming focus groups and surveying transit riders in 17 metropolitan areas across the U.S., the organization was able to collect information about how commuters and tourists use transit from sea to shining sea, with the goal of helping shape transit policy.
A look at the Race Street light rail station
Here is an example related to the Race Street light rail station at Parkmoor Avenue. I believe there was a simple solution to a dangerous walking situation, yet it does not appear to have been considered. If you go on Google Maps and look closely at the intersection, you will see that the rail crossings make the intersection quite complicated.
Immediately West of the light rail station, at 1401 Parkmoor Ave., is the San Jose Children’s Musical Theater, The College of Adaptive Arts and Silicon Valley FACES. What you can’t really see is that the sidewalks end at the bus stop shown in the middle of the map when walking from the light rail station.
The condition of the land along the route doesn’t lend itself to safe walking. Anyone traveling along this route would be forced to walk in the street.
If you look back at the map, there is only one alternative route available to them.
They would need to cross Parkmoor Avenue at Race Street and walk all the way to Meridian Avenue. Then they could safely cross back over Parkmoor Avenue and walk to their destination. I doubt if anyone has done that more than one time. The next time they would follow my example, and walk in the street.
Apparently, the sidewalk wasn’t installed in this location because there is a protected tree blocking the way.
The curb at the bus stop, shown in these pictures, perfectly aligns with the part of the curbing that sticks out in the street in the picture on the left side.
After passing the protected tree, the street is allowed to widen out far enough that there is plenty of room for on-street parking.
It seems to me that ending the sidewalk was not necessary. they could have moved the sidewalk into the street, until it passed the tree, and then moved it back. The only thing you would have lost was street parking, in an area where the curbs are already painted red.