Thursday, June 16, 2011

Woodlands Parkway and Gosling intersection

Sometimes, an intersection is just not designed well. In fact, an intersection can be downright dangerous. This is the case of The Woodlands Parkway and Gosling. It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind this design, except it is to keep traffic flowing without regard to the safety of the pedestrian. Let's see what we are talking about.
Facing north from the south side of the parkway
We are supposed to be a master planned community where pedestrians are provided amenities with safety. During the development of this intersection, something went awry. Walk with me north on Gosling as many in our neighborhood do, to the Panther Creek Shopping Center on the parkway. The shopping center is about three blocks from the homes on the southern side of the Woodlands Pkwy. As we walk along the pathway, we arrive at the intersection above. Automobiles are turning right. The drivers must look to their left to directly merge with the oncoming traffic, because this turn lane has no ramp to it on the parkway. As a result, it is easy to rear-end the car in front of you as you make this right turn. It is also easy to hit a pedestrian in the marked crossing directly in front of us in this photo.

For the pedestrian, the first challenge is to cross the turn lane to get to the button to request a crossing. The right turn lane is not regulated in any way by that pedestrian button on the pole. A pedestrian is on his own to cross that lane.
Crossing six lanes of traffic
Now as we stand on the little island and face to the north, we wait for the pedestrian signal to turn green and give us the number of seconds we are allowed to be in the intersection. This is a challenge also. We feel vulnerable to oncoming traffic from our left.

Now we are nervously watching out for the cars coming at us from the west. One lane is to turn right onto Gosling and the other for traffic to dart a few feet from our feet. This is the pedestrian island. So the light changes and we are cleared to go. We cross. But wait. When we reach the other side, the reverse configuration requires us to watch for traffic turning right from the east onto Gosling. The speed of the turning automobiles is not necessarily slow either!

So we finish our crossing after the cars are allowed to interrupt our crossing. The drivers often assume they have the right of way even though we are in the cross walk.

Coming back with a bag of groceries or other goodies, we now must perform the same crossing in reverse.

Oncoming traffic towards the pedestrian turning just in time
First we cross the turn lane to get to the island requesting a crossing towards the south. Now on the island we are confronted with autos coming straight at us and then turning. We press the button. Hurry up! Cars fly by us and more turn into the lane. We hope everyone is paying attention.
Traffic whizzing by as we wait
The wind of the autos moving at 45-60 mph shake our bodies. Sometimes there is even a honk as a driver is nervous about us being so close to the cars as they move by us at high velocity. That makes us even more nervous. Finally, we cross the six lanes to the other island and then cross the other turning lane. Whew, we made it safely once more. A kid on the bicycle passes by us to cross. I am thinking, I bet he is quicker than us and is able to more confidently cross the 8 lanes. Ah ... maybe not.
Those cars can make anyone nervous, pushing their wall of wind.

The commissioner has been asked to look at this intersection to see how it can be made safer. What has happened to the hometown feel anyway? It feels more like a amusement park arcade with the noise, hustle and bustle, not exactly a country setting anymore.  Although I have not attempted the Kuykendahl crossing for a while, I suspect it is designed the same. Perhaps it is not used much by pedestrians.

1 comment:

Alex Bartolo said...

When will there be a new signal on Gosling at Lake Woodlands?