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To get to the other side

Since 2008, I’ve waited at the same 3-way, T intersection almost single morning and evening. During the cumulative hours I’ve spent waiting there, I’ve convinced myself that the key to the world problems lies in changing one simple assumption: Low-density yet high-impact items are more efficient than high-density, low-impact ones.

As an example: For three minutes I stand with dozens of others people waiting to enter a bus station to take shuttles or buses back into the city. Meanwhile, 50 or more single-occupant cars drive by. The only reason the light we wait at exists is to let pedestrians across the street.

When the light does change, pedestrians have less than 20 seconds to safely cross the five-lane road. I typically cross two of those in about 8 seconds before the warning light begins flashing.

Again, the only purpose for that light is to allow pedestrians to cross the street to get on (or off) a bus.

On bad days, when I miss the bus while waiting at the light, I think I should just give in a drive. (The prime reason I haven’t is that I would first need to buy a car.)

But I’m left wondering: why is the time to cross so short? If it’s to improve traffic flow, is it not the wrong kind of traffic? If it’s the right kind why not at least build a pedestrian bridge.

The only conclusion I’m left with is that planners working in medium-density cities suffer from a kind of confirmation bias that is emblematic of the planning biases found at all levels of when it comes to the long-term welfare of society.