Sunday, January 14, 2007

the path less traveled: walking

In response to our plea for accounts of local carfree life, Homeless Dave generously provides a description of his varying carfree experience with a fork in the road. This is part one of what looks to be developing into a three part series.

I'm starting 2007 with a regular evening appointment three times a week that was previously not on the calendar. The route I need to cover includes an east-west leg along Huron, which splits at a Y in the road, becoming Jackson Rd. to the south and Dexter-Ann-Arbor Rd. to the north. Left to my own devices, I'll be using the Dexter-Ann-Arbor Rd. fork and will then turn right onto Maple. Given the darkness, I figured I'd give a few different car-free options a try.

Installment One: Walking

Approaching Huron from the south on 7th Street, my first decision was to weigh (1) taking the south side of Huron to the Y-in-the-road, then crossing there to the south side of Dexter-Ann-Arbor Road eventually crossing to the north side of Dexter-Ann-Arbor Rd. at Maple against (2) taking the south side of Huron to the Y-in-the-road, then crossing all the way to the north side of Dexter-Ann-Arbor against (3) crossing Huron right at 7th Street, requiring no crossing at the Y-in-the-Road and no crossing of Dexter-Ann-Arbor Maple.

I opted for (3). But here's what I encountered on the north side of Dexter-Ann-Arbor Rd. about 400 meters from the Maple intersection: No more sidewalk. It was raining, so slogging cross-country style across the front yards, planted with various bushes and whatnot, seemed like a pretty wet and nasty proposition. Not to mention a little dangerous: the first branch I took to my face caused me stumble nearly into the road with traffic approaching from behind. Crossing the street right at that point was pretty much the only reasonable choice, but required a sort of mad dash, as there was a fairly steady stream of cars in at least one of the directions.

Conclusion: use the sidewalk on the south side of Dexter-Ann-Arbor Road [i.e., use option (1)]

Total distance of a one-way trip is around two miles, probably somewhere close to the limits of my own tolerance for a regular commuting walk.


Nealie said...

I like the concept of sharing this kind of information. I have been car free since July and walk or take the bus everywhere. Many times I have decided to wing it and walk home from a new destination I bussed to with no idea of the conditions I would meet on the way. Though I will usually check first with to make sure that it is within the 4 miles that is my current maximum comfortable walking distance, the map there only helps me figure out which path I will probably choose and how many miles it will be. I have yet to find a place that would have forewarned me about the 2 recent trips I took walking from Briarwood to the corner of Maple and Pauline. With the first one I choose to walk west along Scio Church to South Maple and then north to Pauline. The sidewalk along Scio Church came and went in various places on both sides of the streets and there were many times when I had no choice but to walk through front yards. The second time I decided to take Main all the way to Stadium and then on to Pauline. There really are no sidewalks along Main between the Busch's and the actual Stadium. In addition to the weather affecting the muddy track I followed, the east side of the road, where I allowed myself to get stuck (Main was an extremely busy road to attempt crossing in the dark), had ground that varied in height above the road and often caused the track to be both muddy and steep.

Does anyone know of an already existing web page that shares this type of information (sidewalk conditions/pedestrian friendly routes)? If not, I promise to be a regular contributor to such a site if someone were to start it.....

JCP2 said...

I think that if you cross Ann Arbor-Saline Road on the south side of the Main Street intersection, you can talk a sidewalk up the the Scio Church - Main Street intersection (in front of the dentists' offices), and then continue on the west side of Main to Stadium on the Pioneer High School side. The golf course side is a bit tricky, but good for finding a few lost balls on the way.

WBWC admin said...

One way to find out what routes need sidewalks in Ann Arbor is in the city's recently-approved Non-motorized Transportation Plan. You can find it at .

It's 200+ pages long so I'd recommend either the Map links (which are also huge and, I find, hard to decipher)or go to pages 192-202 (198-208 if you're printing it out) of the full plan, which are improvements listed by street name. 192-193 list roads that need sidewalks.

As far as keeping up with when new sidewalks are installed, we've asked the city to track progress on the plan, but no word on how/if they will do that.

HomelessDave said...

Nealie, soon there will be a

sidewalk along Main between Busch's and the Stadium.

Golf and Outing club is grumbling about it, but I'm guessing the sidewalks will go in eventually.