The worst intersections for walking.

The other day I was reading a blog post on Streetsblog about the worst intersections in America. The post was asking for submissions for THE WORST intersection. There are a few entries that defy logic from the perspective of this pedestrian planner. I especially like the 3rd one down that looks like a big X.

This of course got me thinking about the corner of Millbrae and El Camino. Is it such a bad intersection? Is it really that bad to cross? Do regular folks think its bad too? Well, I guess we’ll just have to compare it to other intersections that I’ve crossed.

Here’s the intersection with distances included.

Millbrae&ElCamino

Millbrae Ave is the horizontal road and ECR is vertical. Now the image is a little old b/c the free right turn from Millbrae to ECR has been removed by none other than Caltrans. They thought it was dangerous.

The side of the intersection circled is the one that folks going to the station have to cross. That is 157′ of 9-lanes of traffic. Its tough even for an able-bodied person like me to get across while the light is still green. If you’re a little slower than spry me, ahh.. good luck. Asking someone who is going to get on BART to cross that many lanes of traffic is a little too much.

Another intersection I know that is pretty unpleasant is Geary and Gough streets in San Francisco. This is a pretty hairy intersection where Geary splits in half to form O’farrell Street. At 1st I would rank it as bad as the Millbrae intersection, but when I measured it, I found its worst leg was a mere 118′ to Millbrae’s 157′. Here’s the image. Geary is horizontal and Gough is vertical. You can’t really see Gough b/c the angle of the google earth image is very slanted.

Geary&Gough

The 111′ intersection has 8 lanes along with a double turn lane which are always really bad for pedestrians. The 118′ leg has 7 lanes, but the top lane is a very wide b/c of the side street that joins Geary. In addition to being an unpleasant intersection the area around it is pretty bland and uninviting as well. The Cathedral of St. Mary, or as it commonly referred to as Our Lady of the Agitator (b/c the structure looks like a washing machine agitator) is very stark and overexposed to the sun. On a side note, as ugly as the Cathedral is on the outside, it is matched by the beauty on the inside. Make a trip and visit.

So Millbrae is still the contender for most unfriendly intersection near a transit station. I’ll search around for other terrible intersections and propose solutions.

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