Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Trail at Yale, FAIL

Richardson, Texas, has an abundant and growing urban trail system. Not only are more trails being added all the time, existing trails are being enhanced and expanded. For example, in the Duck Creek Linear Park, the spillways in the creek bed were reinforced for erosion control; the Tree the Town initiative planted a hundred trees along the trail; and a side trail was added through Huffhines Park connecting to the Glenville Trail. This constant attention to the quality of life in Richardson is much appreciated.

Still, there's been one aspect of the Duck Creek Trail that I've never been happy with. After the jump, see if you can spot what it is.

Below are two photos. The top photo was taken where Owens Trail crosses Collins Boulevard. The bottom photo was taken where Duck Creek Trail crosses Yale Boulevard. Can you spot the differences?

Owens Trail at Collins
Owens Trail at Collins

Duck Creek Trail at Yale
Duck Creek Trail at Yale

The answer should be obvious.

The Owens Trail crossing is well marked. There are warning signs for drivers. The trail uses colored concrete to attract drivers' attention to the presence of the trail. White stripes mark the pavement across the street (a little worn, but they are there). There's a jog in the trail in the median that forces walkers to turn and face oncoming traffic before completing the crossing.

The Duck Creek Trail has none of these simple safety features. And hasn't had any since the day the trail was built. Even though there's a mini-playground on one side of the street (visible in the photo) and an elementary school on the other (not shown), meaning that it's likely that children might be frequent users of the trail.

Richardson's Parks and Recreation Department brags:

"With more than 40 miles of trails and walkways, we invite you to step out onto one of Richardson's trails today! Explore our trails for fun, fitness, and relaxation, or a healthy and enjoyable means of transportation."

Maybe they should add, "Just don't use the trail to cross Yale Blvd. It isn't safe!" Come on, Richardson. It may not be as sexy as working on the Caruth Properties Planned Development District (with form-based zoning!) or the West Spring Valley Corridor redevelopment (with keypad clickers to measure stakeholder interests!). But it's not difficult, either. This isn't rocket science. Instead, it's just the basic blocking and tackling of good government. You wouldn't let a street intersection go unmarked. Don't let an intersection of a trail with a street go unmarked, either. It's time to finish the job.

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