As many of you know, I’ve been doing a #TransitTrial this past year – documenting my efforts to get around the city using Transit and walking and cycling. It also came right at a time when the Bus Rapid Transit “debate” was appearing in the news more because of the outcry at public meetings. I wanted to experience the system for myself to understand more clearly and to advocate more effectively. I’ve mostly been tweeting about my experiences, but I’ve also written a few blogs and have recently started a sort of “micro-vlog” of my travels as well (a vlog being a video-log of my experiences). I realized that there are many instances in which words are just not enough to depict just how significant a struggle can be.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to test out a different area of London than I usually tweet or share about. I made plans with a friend for brunch at Denny’s (at Flying J truck-stop), Highbury Ave south of the 401. James dropped me off on his way to St Thomas. Without any plans for the rest of the day, I decided I could find my way home (or at least to a bus route that would point me in the right direction).
The south-side of the 401 is one of the least accessible areas in London. There are no sidewalks – barely a shoulder on the side of the road – yet they have crosswalks and a handful of bus stops with “accessible” little stand-alone concrete platforms. With the plethora of industrial businesses at that end of town, this is definitely an area in need of an upgrade when it comes to accessibility and transportation.
The following are a series of videos and photos on my trip from Highbury and Wilton Grove Rd to White Oaks Mall at Wellington and Bradley (where I knew I could grab a bus to take me home). Please also note, my route was self-guided as the option offered by Google Maps was not actually an option.
When I asked Google about the best route for walking from Denny’s to White Oaks, this is what it gave me. Thankfully I know the area well enough to know that this is not really an option. Highbury Ave in this area of London is a full-fledged, four-lane Highway. Between Denny’s and north of the 401 there are no sidewalks. Then along Highbury there is only a gravel shoulder with a highway ramp leading up to Bradley – which is yet another busy road with no sidewalk until a person arrives west of Pond Mills Rd.
As I mentioned, I knew well enough that I’d have to travel along the south side of the 401 and come out at Wellington – where there is a sidewalk on the overpass over the 401 – and then travel north to White Oaks Mall. Of course, there were quite a few discoveries and challenges along the way (which I document for the purpose of moving us toward a safer city).
So here we go…
As there was a crosswalk on Highbury, between the 401 and Wilton Grove Rd, I was able to cross safely to the other side. There were no sidewalks, but clearly there are enough pedestrians in the area to have created a well-worn foot path. I found this to be a common occurrence in my travels.
At the point of the above picture, I made sure to check for traffic behind me and, when it was clear, I walked on the road.https://amandastark.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/img_6161.mov
Still no sidewalk, but now I’ve discovered a bus route. The road was quite busy for a Saturday – I was surprised. But, of course, I realized there are factories along here who have weekend operations (so that made sense). For those who don’t have a car, though, they are S.O.L. This bus route only runs on week days, and even then only during peak hours. Check out that full parking lot of cars at Nestle!
This was an interesting discovery – a crosswalk with no walk indicator. The button is there, but for what purpose? Again, I kept coming upon foot prints in the dirt so I am not the only one trekking this area by foot. Sad that safe infrastructure is not a priority in this city.
I took this photo for perspective. That’s my foot in the bottom left. I’m sitting on the barrier as far away from the road as I can get, but I’m still that close to any passing car.https://amandastark.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/img_6174-1.mov
This was one of the scarier moments. Although I was safe, I still felt very exposed.
I made it to Wellington!!
I was not the only pedestrian out walking on this blustery day.
The view from the top was a bit terrifying. I’m afraid of heights and, with the wind as strong as it was, walking over the overpass was like walking across the suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon near Vancouver, BC.
Once so got over the bridge and safely to the next cross walk, I found the sidewalk just stopped for half a block at Wellington and Exeter Rd. Clearly there are many pedestrians in this area, as demonstrated by the well-worn foot path, but for some reason the city doesn’t have a sidewalk for about 20+ meters on both sides of Wellington.
The above photo is facing west on Exeter Rd. Sidewalk is on north side of Exeter.
Standing in the same spot as last picture, but this time facing north. No sidewalk on the west side of Wellington (at one of the busiest intersections in the city).
I continued walking north.
Once I passed the Petro gas station, I looked over to the east side of Wellington, where – low-and-behold – a sidewalk begins! My first thought was that maybe it’s because there is a bus stop there.
But, no, then I realized that there was a bus stop right in front of me, but still no sidewalk. ?
And so I continued…
Oh look!! ? A sidewalk!
But don’t get too excited, because two or three businesses later the sidewalk disappears again. ?♀️
Well, London, this has been quite the learning experience. Thanks for the exercise and enlightenment. Hopefully we can use this info to better the accessibility of our city going forward.