By Scott Tibbs, October 12, 2012
I posted a picture to PhotoBucket and Twitter of a strange crosswalk design where the B-Line Trail crosses Sixth Street downtown. Granted, it is not nearly as silly as the traffic impeding devices on West Third Street but it is unusual. Why are the crosswalks so close together? Is it really too much to expect people walking down the B-Line Trail to walk less than ten feet to cross the street at the existing crosswalk?
Not only are drivers expected to stop at the four-way stop and yield to walkers (which is required by law as well as being good policy) but if someone is crossing Sixth on the B-Line they have to stop twice.
This, of course, brings up another issue: The mid-block crosswalks that are scattered along the B-Line. I understand that after the investment the city poured into the B-Line (the former railroad tracks that run through downtown) why they would want to make it easier to cross the street. But is it really necessary to force drivers to stop in the middle of the block, in between stop signs? That is a very unnatural traffic pattern that wastes gasoline - something the Peak Oil Task Force should be concerned about.
Bloomington is a very walker-friendly city, which is a good thing. I loved living downtown a decade ago and the city's layout makes it easy to get around downtown even if you park several blocks away. We could all stand to walk a little more. But the reality is that for those who are unable to live downtown (and even for those who do) driving is a fact of life. The mid-block crosswalks, the Third Street debacle, and the unmitigated disaster that the city has created on the east side reinforces the reputation of Bloomington's city leaders as out-of-touch hippies.