Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fenton Street Follies

Last week I went to see my dentist at 8630 Fenton - a busy office building full of medical services. I was happy to see that the sidewalk project that had blocked the sidewalk for a few weeks was complete. Then I noticed that the sidewalks had been treated in much the same way as the rest of Fenton Street, headed south to Sligo Avenue. Disappointing, to say the least.

The rest of Fenton had been rennovated in the early 2000's, and the treatment was part pedestrian improvement, and part ridiculous folly. The good achieved by improved intersections were un-done by paver-covered tree boxes. From the treacherous slippery bricks to the ankle-busting trippy-tree boxes, the dream - or should I say, nightmare? - has been completed. No lessons learned, no improved methods - just the same old thoughtless design. Once again, aesthetics triumphs over practicality.

These sidewalks treatments are so obviously intended to look good from a vehicle. I don't know the person who designed Fenton Street, but I am sure that he doesn't understand what pedestrians need - or the importance of pedestrians in this area. The brick walls are unnecessary and make the path narrow/ Street lamps are places directly in the center of key points. Tree boxes seem designed to injure. What ever happened to learning from best practices? Maybe the designer of Fenton Street needs some advice on how to build a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk in an urban business district.

Sure, despite the unfinished dirt holes, the new sidewalk in front of 8630 Fenton Street looks OK, but in a few months they will look like the rest of the street - broken, uneven, and dangerous. Fit for a pedestrian.

A few tree boxes along Fenton Street are covered with iron grates like the one shown in this photo. This eliminates the hazards. Why not do all of them this way???

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