Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Stroll through Downtown

On the Friday before Christmas I was in Town Center on business. I had to drop by clients offices in the Park View office building and the Merrill Lynch building. I also needed to stop by Clyde’s to pick up some gift coins. I decided to accomplish these visits on foot, getting a ground level perspective of a pedestrian navigating through Town Center. It wasn’t pretty.

Leaving my car parked in the Park View office building garage, I walked along the outside sidewalk towards 20 Columbia Corporate Center. This requires crossing the mall entrance road which on a good day can be challenging. The Friday before Christmas cannot be considered a good day. Still, I managed to cross without getting hit and only received nasty looks from the cars who grudgingly respected a pedestrian’s right of way. The sidewalk on this side of town is not exactly inviting. At regular intervals street light poles sprout from the center of the walkway creating a bit of obstacle course.

When I reached the front of 20 Columbia Corporate Center I turned left towards the mall and the Merrill Lynch Building. Coming down alongside the JC Penney store. I was struck by the garbage and leaves that littered the curbs in this area.

After exiting the Merrill Lynch Building I crossed over Little Patuxent Parkway on the pedestrian bridge and down towards the Lakeside coffee shop. It was there that I encountered Roger Caplan and Mary Ellen Duncan. It seems that whenever I stop in Lakeside I run into someone I know. After a quick chat and cup of coffee I continued down to Clyde’s to get my gift coins. For my return walk I opted to cut through the mall exiting at the Food court entrance. This was probably the faster route and certainly it was more pedestrian friendly, even with the holiday crowds.
All in all, my little walk reinforced my belief that Town Center needs a fresh perspective and a more pedestrian friendly environment.


Dave Wissing said...

I used to work in the Park View (or it might have been Park Square) building as well. The best part was being able to walk across over to the Food Court for lunch on a regular basis without getting into a car. Now I am stuck in Patuxent Woods business park at the intersection of BLP and SRP where it takes five minutes in a car, crossing over Broken Land Parkway, just to get to the nearest restaurant.

Freemarket said...

My jogging route takes me by that area quite a bit, but I always go along LPP between the Parkside Building and the American City Building, but I cross LPP at the Library because the sidewalk ends on the mall side of LPP just past that. That road that loops the mall is very unfriendly to pedestrians- way too narrow and cars are too close. Parking spots along that road to serve as a buffer would be nice.

Jessie Newburn said...

While not quite as adventurous as you were in your recent stroll, I had a frustrating "Downtown Columbia" experience recently. First, I met a colleague for lunch at That's Amore. I had to be very, very careful when crossing from the parking lot to the restaurant and had to use big arm movements and amateur miming skills to indicate to the self-focused drivers that, indeed, I did have right-of-way in the marked pedestrian crossing area. Then, having a client meeting scheduled in a building just two down from where I was, I contemplated walking and getting some fresh air. Alas, I was in professional attire and not in a jogging suit, so I sadly got in my car and drove over to my appointment. Then, needing to do some shopping at The Mall -- and because the "downtown" office building at which I'd had my meeting was just too much of a hike in heels -- I, again, got in my car and drove. Downtown Columbia? Phooey. Bad planning is what I'd call it. Bring on the densification, GGP. In order to live up to our "pedestrian friendly" claims, we need it.

Anonymous said...

How is adding density a cure-all to making it easier to lunch, cross a street, or travel a certain distance in certain shoes? Aren't there a slew of effective solutions to easier non-car travels thereabouts including:
- better ped-xing design and signage, better ped-xing road markings, and/or ped-xing flags,
- more enforcement of crosswalk laws (there have been ongoing enforcement operations),
- walking shoes,
- office bikes, folding bikes, or public-use bikes,
- or brown bagging?

And wouldn't adding density only increase Dave's and others' lunchtime travel time? The traffic studies say intersection wait times will noticeably increase if density does. 10,000+ more daily car trips from all that density will make for a lot more crosswalk flailings.

Some people behaving badly by not yielding at occupied crosswalks isn't a good reason to make Town Center an even more crowded place.

David Wissing said...

"And wouldn't adding density only increase Dave's and others' lunchtime travel time?"

Probably not, since I work on the other side of Columbia now where any increase in Downtown Columbia would have zero impact on my lunch route.

I wasn't commenting on the density issue at all, just lamenting that I missed my office in Park View and the easy access to the Food Court in the Mall.