On Monday the New Colonist wrote about "Barriers to bus service", commenting on the lack of safe places for those waiting for busses at suburban shopping centers. The article included links to photographs in Eric Miller's archive of photos about pedestrian issues.
This article refreshed my concern about the way our reliance on the automobile has led to the existence of dangerous conditions for pedestrians. The recent death of a ten-year-old on Old Freeport Road in Ohara illustrates the need for safe places for pedestrians to travel. (Today's Valley News Dispatch has an editorial commenting on the same story, and rightly pointing out that the group of children could have waited for a ride. But should there not have been a safe walkway for pedestrians to use?)
In and around Tarentum many people do not own cars. They walk and use public transportation to get to their destinations. Some use motorized wheelchairs, and are forced onto narrow Tarentum streets when disrepair of a sidewalk leaves piles of gravel in the way for weeks at a time.
The lengthy project to widen the Tarentum Bridge road in New Kensington was frustrating to drivers. But not many drivers are aware how the whole project was conducted with little respect for the safety of pedestrians. People using the bridge walkway were for a time forced to walk in traffic at the New Kensington end of the bridge.
Eventually the sidewalk was completed as far as the corner with the entrance to the Giant Eagle. Although the sidewalk has no barrier (as exists along the bridge), at least now pedestrians have their own place to walk a short distance into New Kensington. (A car would at least need to jump the curb to endanger a pedestrian.)
But at the end of the sidewalk, the crosswalk leads to a corner where no sidewalk resumes. Pedestrians, or those in motorized wheelchairs, are forced back into traffic.
Although Tarentum has a few convenience stores, there is no supermarket here. The bridge walkway is a necessary route for many local pedestrians to pick up their weekly groceries.
The route should be safer.