Pedestrian refuge island, London, preceding the onslaught of the motorcar (via Flickr)

You don’t have to live like a refugee | streets.mn

Pedestrian refuge island, London, preceding the onslaught of the motorcar (via Flickr)
Pedestrian refuge island, London, preceding the onslaught of the motorcar (via Flickr)

Listen, it don’t really matter to me baby

You believe what you want to believe

You see you don’t have to live like a refugee (Don’t have to live like a refugee)

Yeah Somewhere, somehow, somebody

Must have kicked you around some

Tell me, why you wanna lay there

Revel in your abandon

It don’t make no difference to me baby

Everybody’s had to fight to be free

You see you don’t have to live like a refugee (Don’t have to live like a refugee)

Now baby you don’t have to live like a refugee (Don’t have to live like a refugee) No!

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Refugee Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I think Tom Petty speaks not of the oppressed living in third world conditions, but rather his girlfriend. The lyrics however apply to the pedestrian trapped on refuge island between two stream of traffic (perhaps this post should be Islands in the Stream – nah)

The pedestrian refuge island allows the pedestrian to cross some of the lanes of a roadway without crossing all of the lanes of a roadway. If the lanes are going in two directions, this might decrease the travel time to cross the street, by increasing the likelihood of finding a safe gap in traffic (since you are more likely to find an acceptable gap in fewer lanes than more lanes) and reduce the number of objects the pedestrian is looking for.

The refuge island is presumably a safety improvement (the evidence is that all else equal, it is: See, e.g. Retting et al. (2003) for a review of this and other crash counter-measures). However pedestrians with pedestrian refuge islands may also be more aggressive and ignore traffic control devices since there is a refuge only a few lanes away. (I have observed this to happen almost daily), particularly when lights are timed with long cycles (e.g. resulting in waits > 50s). It also adds to the total crossing distance, and potentially time if there are no cars (remember most roads are empty most of the time). But these effects are smaller than the main  safety benefit.

So far, so good – safety first and all. However, the existence of the refuge island makes it possible for the traffic engineer, and worse the driver, to even further subjugate the needs and rights of pedestrians. It creates an environment where the pedestrian must seek refuge from oncoming traffic (which implicitly has the right-of-way, rather one where the motor vehicles must yield to pedestrians who seek to cross.

Charlotte Complete Streets-Rozzelles Ferry Road  Charlotte completely revamped Rozzelles Ferry Road. The streetscape was enhance by the addition of street trees and planting strips, while pedestrian crossing opportunities--as indicated by the crosswalk and corresponding refuge median--were added along the length of the road to make walking a breeze. The bike lanes facilitate cycling on road that previously unsuitable for riding. Photo: Charmeck.org (via Flickr, Creative Commons license)
Charlotte Complete Streets-Rozzelles Ferry Road
“Charlotte completely revamped Rozzelles Ferry Road. The streetscape was enhance by the addition of street trees and planting strips, while pedestrian crossing opportunities–as indicated by the crosswalk and corresponding refuge median–were added along the length of the road to make walking a breeze. The bike lanes facilitate cycling on road that previously unsuitable for riding.”
Photo: Charmeck.org (via Flickr, Creative Commons license)

This is a problem of first best and second best. In a second best world, where pedestrians have no rights, this is the literal life-jacket being thrown to them so they don’t sink in the traffic stream. In a first best world, there would be no stream in which to sink. Life should not be a game of Frogger.

cross-posted at streets.mn

Main Street – Chisago City and Lindstrom | streets.mn

Cross-posted from streets.mn

Chisago City is, not surprisingly, a City in Chisago County, and has just under 5,000 people. Just to the west Lindstrom has just over 4,400 people. Neither of these cities however, possess the County Seat, which is the tiny Center City, with 628 people. All three cities share US Highway 8 (Lake Boulevard) as their main street (map).

Life is Great on Highway 8
Life is Great on Highway 8

While these towns are part of the larger 19 county metropolitan area, the driver of the economy is not what happens on a daily basis in the Cities some 45 minutes away, but rather local activities that tend to interact with the cities on a less frequent cycle. Certainly there is a resort aspect, as the Lakes in particular are important for Fishing and Boating. The Hazelden Center for addiction treatment is located in Center City.

Vilhelm Moberg in Chisago City
Vilhelm Moberg in Chisago City

Nearby to the east is the Franconia Sculpture Park, far more interesting than the more famous establishment sculpture garden in Minneapolis (flickr set).

We arrive at Chisago City first when traveling east-bound from I-35W (flickr set). The first thing you notice is the giant Adirondack Chair beckoning, assuring “Life is Great on Highway 8!”. Even if it makes us blue, all that rhymes is very true. The second thing you notice is a sculpture of a tall man and his bicycle. This is Vilhelm Moberg (1898-1973), who explored the area in 1948 by bicycle. The plaque says:

Chisago Drug
Chisago Drug

“Vilhelm Moberg was one of the foremost Swedish authors of the 20th century. His most famous characters, Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson, were representative of the over 1.2 million Swedish emigrants that landed on our shores between 1846 and 1930. During the summer of 1948 he stayed in Chisago City and explored the area by bicycle. That research helped shape his most famous work — the epic tetralogy “The Emigrants,” “Unto a Good Land,” “The Settlers,” and “The Last Letter Home.” In Sweden, thanks to Moberg’s literary works, this land of Kichi-Saga — the Chisago Lakes Area — is probably the best-known area of the United States.”

Vilcommen till Lindstrom
Vilcommen till Lindstrom

It does not mention Moberg committed suicide by drowning in 1973. Though I had never heard of him (not Swedish enough I guess), his most famous work has been compared to the Norwegian Ole Rolvaag’s Giants in the Earth, which I have.

Though Chisago City is nominally larger than Lindstrom, I am surprised to read that, given the relative sizes of their downtowns. Lindstrom’s downtown is significant larger.

Lindstrom (flickr set) is more clearly oriented to Highway 8. Chisago City is to the side, presumably because the road was widened and rerouted, while Center City is aligned North-South to the north of Highway 8. Highway 8 has been converted to a one-way pair through town, though the east-bound souther part of that pair seems to be more of the main street, while the west-bound side has fewer buildings but still has parking access. There is parallel parking on both sides of Highway 8, which is 2 through lanes serving long distance traffic. This is not the ideal urban environment, with large trucks moving through town at a relatively high speed. However efforts have been made to increase the attractiveness, with new lighting, new sidewalks, and new plantings. Our photos are from Sunday morning, so parking was not at a premium.

The Flag of Sweden
The Flag of Sweden

There are some wonderful bakeries and meat stores here (with the iconic sausage on the roof as a distinguishing feature), as well as tourist serving antiques shops. The water tower is tea pot shaped. The flag of Sweden features prominently on the side of one of the buildings.

Deutschland Meats
Deutschland Meats

by David Levinson

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