Walk On Wednesday

Bob Michael Bridge

I don’t know about you, but I bet you feel the same way when you see someone walking on the side of the road like this… “What on God’s Earth is he doing walking across this bridge???”

When did walking become a second-rate form of transportation?

When did we become a society that discourages the cheapest form of transportation and altogether stop constructing the proper infrastructure needed to encourage it?

It seems like such a pitiful afterthought to even put a half-assed attempt of a sidewalk like this on the bridge. You’ve clearly sent a message that says, “Sorry bud, you need a car to across this river.” However, I have seen a few stray humans loose on the Bob Michel Bridge before. No wonder why everyone thinks it isn’t safe to walk or ride your bike anymore. We have built our cities around the people hunting monsters we worship so much.

sucks for this guy…

Bob Michael Bridge - Bike

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want my name attached to this bridge. It’s ironic how an area discovered by French settlers still hasn’t been able to capture what the French do so well – create beautiful, walkable environments.

Paris Bridge


10 thoughts on “Walk On Wednesday

  1. I’ll partially disagree with you on this one, perhaps in reaction to other, even more inhuman bridges that span the river nearby. If I had the Michel to cross by bicycle 25 years ago, instead of the previous Franklin, I would have felt fortunate, mainly because of the old lift span’s narrow lanes and steel deck. Most interesting traverse? Crossing in the rain on a 50-inch high-wheeler.

    For me, the Michel is charmless, carries more and faster traffic, and introduces a climb, but it provides the cyclist with plenty of room to maneuver on the main deck.

    Its lack of charm is the most evident problem above. On the other hand, there is an elevated walkway for pedestrian use, which is not the case with the McCluggage to the north and certainly not with Peoria’s most-recognized celebration of mechanized and dehumanized movement: the Murray Baker.

    Your picture wouldn’t be so stark if there were more pedestrians using the bridge, but neither side of the bridge has much to attract walkers.

    The Franklin was a pedestrian’s dream, however. Not simply because of its isolated walkway and level-grade crossing, but because of the proximity of the enveloping overhead ironwork. The Franklin was human scale–and the last major bridge in the area that people regularly used for fishing. (And the only one to give priority to river traffic below.)

    It was its own attraction. You have to wonder how much business the old East Peoria Steak and Shake did simply because people liked watching the lift span in action.

    1. I’ll accept your partial disagreement Sam, on the condition that I didn’t focus on all the horrible bridges in the area.

      I take the Cedar St. coming to/fro work and unless you’re doing 70+ on the 55mph street it’s in-hospitable to cars as well. The Murray Baker serves only as a good background in pictures. The Pekin bridge and McCluggage are in the same category as the Cedar St. Of course, there’s also the one that the train crosses, I’ll give that one credit because it at least looks somewhat interesting and isn’t solely for cars.

      My intention, was hopefully to point out what an afterthought crossing the regions #1 asset (as suggested in regional asset mapping meetings) has become. Indeed, it can be navigated (if you dare), and is the only one in the area which can, but if this is the standard – well we’re all screwed…

      1. As far as bridges are concerned, I imagine our friend at the Strong Towns blog might focus on the fact that none of the communities served by these bridges have any “skin in the game” when it comes to funding. The money for construction and, who knows, most of the maintenance, comes from state and federal sources. It’s safe to say the bridge network would look different, not necessarily better, but different if the local communities owned the bridges, as they did in the past.

  2. Allow me to briefly share with you the Overpass of Doom on Hall Road in Metro Detroit: http://i1341.photobucket.com/albums/o757/George_Vieira/impassable_zpsb6e5f036.png?t=1360178412.

    This overpass is part of one of the busiest roads in suburban Detroit – Hall Road/20 Mile – and is surrounded by typical suburban communities. While it might not look so bad at first, keep in mind that it is crossing over a freeway (the north-south road in the center the pic) that is essentially a giant trench and that there are NO sidewalks anywhere. If you want to keep going east or west, you thus have to cross one of the bridges, which besides having no sidewalk, don’t even really have a shoulder. And on top of that, all the cars are going at least 60 MPH and will honk like mad if a biker is spotted from even afar.

    To get around this ENTIRELY man-made obstacle, you’ll probably have to bike at least a mile or two out of your way. And if you’d like to start going north or south, you’ll have to wait yet another mile or two, because the turned what was traditionally a main road into the aforementioned freeway.

    One of the communities bordering Hall Road has a population of over 100,000. This isn’t some small farming community, but an area that contains many potential bicyclists.

  3. No joke. Neighborhoods today build streets to a code that would allow an aircraft carrier to float on by. My city’s traffic engineer is more concerned about the speedy flow of commuter traffic through town than considering our shops and businesses as a destination. Streets seem more engineered for the safety of drivers than pedestrians. Personally, I live in a new urbanism neighborhood designed for walking with narrow streets that have been granted an exemption from city code – causing traffic to slow down. Lived here 14 years and really like it. Nice blog.

    1. Thanks for reading Ed! I agree it seems like any and every “transportation” engineer seems to have that same agenda. I need to find one of those mythical walkable communities.

  4. I occasionally see people crossing bridges like this near my home. It make me nervous just seeing them with cars whizzing so close.

    But the worst places I’ve ever seen in this area is Brasilia. I once tried to walk across that city and nearly died a dozen times. There was no place to cross numerous bridges, so I literally tight-rope walked on the curbs with traffic on one side and a huge drop on the other. Not surprisingly, I didn’t see a single other person out walking in those areas. (And this was in the city, not out on the highway or something. It was a place that conceivably, with better design, someone might actually want to walk in.)

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