In the Boston suburb of Burlington, Massachusetts, the AMC movie theater is right across the street from the Burlington Mall. But if you’re planning to travel between these two destinations on foot, you’re in for quite a hike.
The closest crosswalk is more than half a mile down the Middlesex Turnpike. That means crossing the road — if you’re going to do it “the safe way” — requires a 1.2-mile journey, and it’s definitely not going to be a pleasant one. Local resident David Chase reports that only one side of the street has a sidewalk.
Sadly, this situation isn’t even all that unusual in the United States. In most American cities you can find streets that turn what should be short, easy walking trips into excursions so long and humiliating that you might as well drive. Or, if you don’t have that option, you can take your chances playing a high-stakes game of Frogger.
Streetsblog asked our readers to help us find America’s “Least Crossable Street” by sending in examples of these monster roads. You responded, and hopefully a little public shaming will do some good. Check out the contenders and place your votes below.
Laurel, Maryland: 2nd Street
This location comes to us from reader Alan Budde, who says this particular street segment is part of his daily commute. Because there are no crosswalks on 2nd Street and Laurel Avenue, you’d have to travel 0.6 miles to legally walk between his bus stop and his office. “But we all just jaywalk,” Budde said. “Sometimes I take the bus all the way around town which adds about 5-10 minutes to my trip, just to avoid this walk.”
Nashville: Gallatin Pike
Reader Patrick Arena singled out Gallatin Pike as a daunting obstacle for people on foot. Walking across the street legally from the bus stop at Gallatin Pike and Williams Avenue would take you half a mile out of your way. The nearest crosswalk is roughly a quarter mile south at Old Hickory Boulevard.
Worse, Arena added, Gallatin carries “two of the Metro bus lines with the highest ridership,” so the local transit system drops off riders where they have to contend with this deathtrap of a street.
Boise: Capitol Boulevard
Getting from one side of Boise’s Capitol Boulevard to the other will take you about six minutes on foot, a distance of roughly a third of a mile. The worst part is, halfway through this walk, you have to cross a total of 20 lanes of traffic to get to the other side of Capitol Boulevard, because one leg of the intersection lacks a crosswalk. Yeesh.
Kansas City: NW Vivion Road
There’s an apartment complex that straddles NW Vivion Road in Kansas City, Missouri. But as reader Kevin Carlyle points out, walking from the apartments on one side of the streets to the office or to resident amenities like a pool involves a one-mile trip to Waukomis Drive and back.
Phoenix: West Indian School Road
In Phoenix, writes Lisa Parks, half-mile superblocks are the norm, making it generally dreadful for walking. She says the worst street to cross could be West Indian School Road, where getting from the Phoenix Christian Elementary School just down the road to the Arizona Chapter of the National Safety Council would require a half-mile detour to the crosswalk at North 15th Avenue.
“You would either have to jaywalk across eight lanes of traffic or walk a half mile so that you can access the traffic lights,” Parks said. “Of course, while doing this walk, you’ll be on a narrow sidewalk right next to the eight lanes of speeding traffic. I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees the irony in this.”
Troy, Michigan: Big Beaver Road
This is Big Beaver Road in Troy, Michigan. Robert Wright stayed in a hotel here a few weeks ago and had a hell of a time reaching the restaurant across the street.
Above, we measured how far you would have to travel on foot to get from LA Fitness to Big Beaver Tavern on the other side of the road. Were you to use the nearest crosswalk at Rochester, you’d have to travel more than a half mile.
Atlanta: Pleasantdale Road
Atlanta is known for uncrossable streets, and here’s a good example. If you want to cross Pleasantdale Road from the bus stop at Pleasant Shade Drive to reach the apartment complex across the street, you have to travel three-quarters of a mile out of your way.
Submitter Jacob Mason said this area was much like the setting where an intoxicated driver ran over and killed the 4-year-old son of Raquel Nelson in 2011. Nelson was charged with vehicular homicide for “jaywalking” from the bus stop to her apartment, rather than walking one-third of a mile to the nearest crosswalk.
Mason said Pleasantdale Road is lined with apartment complexes oriented toward low-income residents, many of whom lack cars. “It’s really dangerous, and I’m sure people have been killed here,” he said.
Vote for the worst
So these are America’s least crossable streets. Just so you know, we received many more submissions from readers and had to eliminate the epic detours that would be required by limited access highways. We decided that was a whole other category of inconvenience to pedestrians. (Check out this this seven-mile stunner in New Jersey. Future contest winner?)
Vote below to help us determine which road deserves to be called the Least Crossable Street in America.
Which is the least crossable street?
- Atlanta's Pleasantdale Road (29%, 90 Votes)
- Phoenix's West Indian School Road (24%, 73 Votes)
- Burlington's Middlesex Turnpike (20%, 61 Votes)
- Troy's Big Beaver Road (10%, 31 Votes)
- Kansas City's NW Vivion (7%, 22 Votes)
- Laurel's Second Street (4%, 13 Votes)
- Boise's Capitol Boulevard (4%, 11 Votes)
- Nashville's Gallatin Road (2%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 306