A Crosswalk Too Far: Vote for the Least Crossable Street in America

burlington_map
In Burlington, traveling from one side of the Middlesex Turnpike to another via the nearest crosswalk would require walking more than a mile out of the way. Image via Scribble Maps

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

Picture 7

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

gallatin

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

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

vivion

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

Picture 11

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

Picture 12

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

Picture 14

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

Loading ... Loading ...

  • Jacob

    Jacob here. The Atlanta example is actually far worse. There are bus stops and a park across the street from a bunch of apartment complexes (not sure how the location got changed, and the road is Pleasantdale Road, not parkway). To get there with a crosswalk, you need to travel at least 1.5 miles. At some places it’s closer to 1.6 or 1.7 miles. Oh yeah, and the street is 45mph with 4 travel lanes and a median turn lane.
    http://goo.gl/maps/HhFBQ

    This is what passes for safe pedestrian crossing in this part of metro Atlanta. Basically, we tell kids “run for it”.
    http://goo.gl/maps/K6fzH

  • Streetsblog Network

    That link doesn’t direct other people to a precise location so we did the best we could.

  • john

    Angie, you should realize by now that MoDOT has expanded highways so dramatically that even once walkable neighborhoods are no longer pleasant are walkable. Numerous stores, restaurants, etc that are just 500 feet away now require walking 1.5 miles one way since pedestrian bridges have been removed in building the New 64 expansion. Solutions exist but MoDOT has little interest in serving pedestrians or cyclists.

    Take a look:
    https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Everett+Ave,+Richmond+Heights,+MO+63117/Trader+Joe's,+48+Brentwood+Promenade+Ct,+Brentwood,+MO+63144/@38.6298847,-90.3476425,16z/data=!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x87d8cb1f6a57a407:0xb08fc29429757d95!2m2!1d-90.3417531!2d38.6302713!1m5!1m1!1s0x87d8cb195be07b01:0x287d7099b0a45b01!2m2!1d-90.341243!2d38.627284?hl=en

  • BB

    http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4774832

    This one is pretty bad.
    An off street rail trail
    A train transit stop
    A fire station
    The only way to cross the street on the rail trail?
    Walk .5 miles round trip to the light.
    You would think if you are going to have a trail you wouldn’t make people walk along a car choked road for half a mile to cross the street.

  • dr2chase

    I think you’re just supposed to catch a train to get across that street.

    Maybe we need to restart the contest (I’m the Burlington entry).

  • Mark

    They’re right about the Burlington one. That entire area is totally impassable without a car, and it isn’t even pleasant with one. Even adjacent stores have absurd driveway designs to get to segregated lots. Walking from one store to another is a mess, and the mall’s parking lot involves a number of bad turns to get around the building.

  • Fbfree

    The ‘seven-mile stunner’ from New Jersey seems to be a google maps snafu. It’s closer to 1.5 miles, with sections such as this.

    Evidently, the route is well used.

  • Jacob
  • Alan

    Downtown New Brunswick is pretty walkable but go a mile in any direction and good lord it’s terrible.

  • neroden

    Yeah. I still think the horrors of trying to cross US 1 (NOT an expressway) in New Jersey near New Brunswick are worse than anything in the nomination list here. I discussed this on the previous entry. It practically doesn’t matter where you try to cross it, you’re half a mile away from the nearest crosswalk at best.

    Here’s an example:
    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Fulton+St&daddr=Unknown+road&hl=en&ll=40.505944,-74.396217&spn=0.006004,0.006984&sll=40.505968,-74.395777&sspn=0.006004,0.006984&geocode=FX4RagIdzdKQ-w%3BFTYWagIdvc6Q-w&t=h&dirflg=w&mra=ltm&z=17

    It’s just as bad in a car!

    The problem is, this is *typical* of the entire length of US 1.

    It’s clear that this used to be a road with lots of traditional intersections, and they were replaced with “right-in, right-out”
    slip-ramp style intersections.

    Do you want a worse example? Same road, US 1, further north:

    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=40.569954,-74.295152&daddr=Unknown+road&hl=en&ll=40.568736,-74.293735&spn=0.011997,0.013969&sll=40.565923,-74.29705&sspn=0.011997,0.013969&geocode=%3BFbkIawId3FyS-w&t=h&dirflg=w&mra=ltm&z=16

    Put in walking directions, and Google tells you it’s impossible. Google is correct.

    The next crosswalk north is at Avenel Rd. Heading south on the south side, there IS NO next crosswalk; it’s completely cut off by US1, US9, and the railroad.

    And please note again the driveways here. US 1 is a local access road, not an expressway.

    US 1 needs a road diet.

  • neroden

    I’m voting for US 1 in New Brunswick, NJ because it’s worse than all of these. It should be in the competition.

    It was disqualified due to a mistake on the part of the Streetsblog Moderator, who thought it was an expressway. It isn’t, it’s a local access road full of driveways. That confusion shows how bad it is, doesn’t it?

    Restart the polling.

  • geep9

    in burlington, there’s a crosswalk at mall road now. With it’s own beg again button in the middle of the street.

  • Eric Ellis

    In Boise on Capitol Ave., the better solution is to walk north-ish to the Boise River, where the Greenbelt is, and take the Greenbelt path under both roadways of Capitol, and then come back up. Shortens the walk from about .6 mile to .3. The road could still use a crosswalk, but walking along the Greenbelt’s not a horrible compromise…

  • Vintage Velo

    This just in: Phoenix is the 9th deadliest state for pedestrian safety… http://www.azfamily.com/news/Phoenix-metro-area-ranks-9th-as-deadliest-for-pedestrian-safety-259975911.html

  • dr2chase

    Since when? I guess they were repaving it last week. Oddly enough, given the chance to bike to the office that’s not in Burlington, I take it, so I haven’t see it with my own eyes for about a week.

  • Baloo Uriza

    None of the above. I pick Oregon 99W at almost any given point between Oregon 217 in Tigard and US 26 in downtown. 8 miles, 3 crosswalks, no sidewalks for most of it, 8 lanes across in places. CROSSWALK CLOSED signs appear more frequently than signs reminding you you’re on 99W or which direction you’re going (since it’s not hard to get turned around if you’re unfamiliar).

  • Smlodoze

    I’d like to nominate rt 9 in the ma suburbs of natick & framingham. Like Burlington, there’s tons of shopping right along this roadway.
    good luck reaching a store on the other side on foot without having to walk miles to reach a crosswalk, then cross 6 lanes of traffic & a rusty fence that separates the 2 sides. Apparently the thought when constructing this disaster of suburban planning was that left turns are unsafe so they must be prevented at all costs. The cost at this point is the daily sanity of motorists and pedestrians as we endure this!

  • bob in phoenix

    the suspense is killing me – when will the voting be over so we can know the ‘winner’?

  • Sorry. After memorial day!

  • sergededina

    I would suggest you evaluate Palm Avenue/Highway 75 in Imperial Beach/San Diego from Rainbow Ave. to Saturn Blvd. Not a single painted complete crosswalk for over 3 miles. Caltrans refuses to upgrade citing the idea that they would be “liable” even though it is their highway…

  • Dan Hyatt

    405 and US 101 interchange
    Las Vegas Blvd between Tropacana and Flamingo

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Atlanta’s Pleasantdale Road Voted the Least Crossable Street in America

|
Streetsblog readers have spoken, choosing Atlanta’s Pleasantdale Road as the “least crossable street in America,” which beat tough competition from Phoenix, Kansas City, and other cities. To legally walk from the bus stop at Pleasant Shade Drive to the apartment complex across the street using the nearest crosswalk would require a three-quarter-mile trip. Jacob Mason, the […]