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Sharon Bensing Photo Essay: "Pedestrian Unfriendly"

MetroJacksonville.com is working with Ana Kamiar, MFA, of the Art Institute of Jacksonville to create a series of student created photo essays that highlight the people, environment, culture and thoughts of the metro Jacksonville region. This is their response. Images by Sharon Bensing.

Published June 5, 2012 in Culture      30 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article



Image by Sharon Bensing
Photo Editor, Ana Kamiar, MFA

Crosswalks in the Baymeadows area only give pedestrians the walk light for about three seconds. In that time, it’s impossible to get more than four feet from the curb.


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30 Comments

Garden guy

June 05, 2012, 06:50:04 AM
Noone should be suprised...this city has no plan..no standards...thats what you get with years and years of allowing developers and city good ole boys do what they want without tought of public access..again an example of a conservative anti-public republican city...welcome.

Adam W

June 05, 2012, 07:00:12 AM
Noone should be suprised...this city has no plan..no standards...thats what you get with years and years of allowing developers and city good ole boys do what they want without tought of public access..again an example of a conservative anti-public republican city...welcome.

It's not just a Republican thing.

simms3

June 05, 2012, 07:36:45 AM
As a moderate Democrat I am happy my Republican governor is spearheading our own Transportation Initiative Referendum and personally taking on the task of building public support for express busses and the Beltline.  I love how the Republican cities of Houston and Salt Lake City are building and expanding transit systems.

Now back to the photos, the last one was definitely most powerful.  It's hard to make suburban areas anywhere pedestrian friendly, but at the least you would want the local workers to have a slightly easier commute time on the busses they need to get back home.

Adam W

June 05, 2012, 07:51:48 AM
As a moderate Democrat I am happy my Republican governor is spearheading our own Transportation Initiative Referendum and personally taking on the task of building public support for express busses and the Beltline.  I love how the Republican cities of Houston and Salt Lake City are building and expanding transit systems.

Now back to the photos, the last one was definitely most powerful.  It's hard to make suburban areas anywhere pedestrian friendly, but at the least you would want the local workers to have a slightly easier commute time on the busses they need to get back home.

I thought the first and last ones were the best as illustrations of how anti-pedestrian Jacksonville is. But as a photo essay or art, I thought the photos were quite poor, generally.

simms3

June 05, 2012, 08:04:35 AM
^^Agreed.  The photos appear to all have been shot within 15 minutes on the same street corner and of friends rather than natural scenes.  (You said it first!!) ;)

Adam W

June 05, 2012, 08:11:28 AM
^^Agreed.  The photos appear to all have been shot within 15 minutes on the same street corner and of friends rather than natural scenes.  (You said it first!!) ;)

I feel bad. But the first shot, assuming it was candid, was fairly compelling. There are lots of great photo opportunities around Jacksonville for this subject.

fsujax

June 05, 2012, 08:12:04 AM
Baymeadows was not built to accomodate pedestrians, bikes or transit. Retrofitting these mistakes is going to be costly. Simms you are correct there are Republican cities like Houston, Dallas, SLC, Charlotte who have made great strides in transit. It can be done with the right Republican leadership.

Adam W

June 05, 2012, 08:24:58 AM
Baymeadows was not built to accomodate pedestrians, bikes or transit. Retrofitting these mistakes is going to be costly. Simms you are correct there are Republican cities like Houston, Dallas, SLC, Charlotte who have made great strides in transit. It can be done with the right Republican leadership.

There are plenty of things Republicans and Democrats (and others) have in common: sidewalks or safer streets are not the province of any one party.

Captain Zissou

June 05, 2012, 08:54:31 AM
I agree that this wasn't necessarily a 'photo essay', but it's a great first attempt. Next time either specify that this is targeting baymeadows, or use more locations and over a greater period of time.  The same 4 people don't have time to write all of the articles and post all the pictures that metrojax needs, especially considering they all have day jobs. Educating people on what to look for and how to capture urban issues is a great way to build up content for the site. I look forward to what this group produces in the future.

Adam W

June 05, 2012, 08:56:39 AM
I agree that this wasn't necessarily a 'photo essay', but it's a great first attempt. Next time either specify that this is targeting baymeadows, or use more locations and over a greater period of time.  The same 4 people don't have time to write all of the articles and post all the pictures that metrojax needs, especially considering they all have day jobs. Educating people on what to look for and how to capture urban issues is a great way to build ether content for the site. I look forward to what this group produces in the future.

Absolutely. Those are great points.

stephendare

June 05, 2012, 09:36:31 AM
As a moderate Democrat I am happy my Republican governor is spearheading our own Transportation Initiative Referendum and personally taking on the task of building public support for express busses and the Beltline.  I love how the Republican cities of Houston and Salt Lake City are building and expanding transit systems.

Now back to the photos, the last one was definitely most powerful.  It's hard to make suburban areas anywhere pedestrian friendly, but at the least you would want the local workers to have a slightly easier commute time on the busses they need to get back home.

I thought the first and last ones were the best as illustrations of how anti-pedestrian Jacksonville is. But as a photo essay or art, I thought the photos were quite poor, generally.

I thought they were actually pretty good, and they do tell a picture about how bad it is for pedestrians here. Thanks for the commentary though, Im sure the students appreciate your input!.

I also like the final one's depiction of how badly insufficient the bus stops are here:  There it sits all alone, subject to  rain or blazing sun.  really quite vulnerable and forbidding looking.

Meanwhile the Primitive Man Foot Trail bends around it.

Great photo!

CityLife

June 05, 2012, 09:55:01 AM
The Art Institute is located off Baymeadows Rd (poor location for that btw), so I suppose that is why Baymeadows was used for this... I think a better photo essay would be comparing how pedestrian unfriendly the suburbs are in Jacksonville compared to the urban neighborhoods and beaches.

JeffreyS

June 05, 2012, 10:01:00 AM
Great idea but poor execution on the photo essay.  Clearly not much effort put into it.

kells904

June 05, 2012, 11:07:30 AM
Yeah, I agree with CityLife.  I don't know the ins and outs of why an office park in the middle of a traffic insanity was chosen in the first place, but that is a dumb place to put a school.  I've heard that putting a school downtown is a bigger ball-ache than it should be, though.  But certainly, none of that matters to the students who did this photo essay, since it's merely highlighting that they're playing live-action Frogger every day.  And I'm guessing this area was picked for a photo essay because it was easily accessible for a student assignment, that also benefit the MJ "agenda" (for lack of a better word). 

AI doesn't have that many students right now, but long term, they really should relocate.  The Bentley Green apt complex behind that bus stop is what they're using as dorms, but I've never seen a B7 bus come through there; the only one I ever see is headed for...SOUTEL.

CityLife

June 05, 2012, 11:47:13 AM
Art Institute like its neighbor Florida Coastal is a for-profit school. Simply put, it was cheaper/more profitable to open in a suburban office park vs. Downtown.

However, both schools are doing a disservice to their students by being located in Baymeadows and not in or near Downtown. Coastal students would gain a lot by being closer to the Courthouses, clerkships, internships, politics, etc. Art Institute students would gain a lot by being closer to the best artists, chefs, etc in the city, not to mention all the cultural institutions. There is a synergy created by being around other like minded people and students of both schools miss out on that.

fieldafm

June 05, 2012, 11:56:42 AM
Off topic, but for those of you that work on the Southside like me (unless someone would like to hire me closer to home  :)  ) The Art Institute has a good seasonal lunch program (FCCJ does too) on Thursday and Fridays... cheap and fairly high quality food and it's a great way for students to get hands on experience.

urbanlibertarian

June 05, 2012, 12:03:40 PM
At intersections where pedestrians are crossing many lanes those countdown clocks for the flashing "Don't Walk" they have at recently upgraded intersections are great.  They give you a good idea of how long you have to get across safely.  If they had one of those where the first photo was taken folks would be able to gauge whether or not they should start to cross after the "Walk" signal has changed to the flashing "Don't Walk".

fieldafm

June 05, 2012, 12:10:53 PM
On a related note... I walked to the new Shell gas station at the Town Center at lunch time yesterday.  There aren't any adequate sidewalks(or more correctly stated 'ANY sidewalks') behind all of the new stores that have been built up (nevermind the fact that the street entrances were also not designed properly even for auto traffic).  I literally dodged two cars at speeds well above 20mph while being forced to walk through the Costco parking lot.

aubureck

June 05, 2012, 12:49:43 PM
It amazes me that there are not more sidewalks and crosswalks avaiable along Baymeadows between Philips Hwy and Southside Blvd.  I used to live in this area and drove it daily and you would be amazed at the number of pedestrians who are walking along the right of way.  The dirt path is illustrative of just how many people walk or ride their bikes on the side of Baymeadows Rd.

I think it should be required that any repaving or other moderate to major road work that occurs on local roadways that sidewalks or at least wide shoulders should be added for pedestrians and bicyclists.  This would eventually end up with the majority of streets throughout the entire city having sidewalks or shoulders.

mtraininjax

June 05, 2012, 12:54:20 PM
Quote
However, both schools are doing a disservice to their students by being located in Baymeadows and not in or near Downtown. Coastal students would gain a lot by being closer to the Courthouses, clerkships, internships, politics, etc. Art Institute students would gain a lot by being closer to the best artists, chefs, etc in the city, not to mention all the cultural institutions. There is a synergy created by being around other like minded people and students of both schools miss out on that.

+1

But aren't we missing the point here? Any school with teachers have a lot of labor, bricks/mortar, and overhead. Why not develop more virtual schools for learning? No driving, less carbon footprint, teachers can handle 300 students, and the system is working now across Florida. School costs are out of control as is student debt, this is a better way to educate.

Quote
I walked to the new Shell gas station at the Town Center at lunch time yesterday.

That Daily's there on the corner of Costco and the restaurant creates a bottleneck for sure. That light is a real problem, the way to fix it is to mandate that everyone has to turn right, and then no one will use it. Move the traffic down to Town Center Drive and Gate. The stop signs in that intersection are a joke, no one sees them or uses them.

cline

June 05, 2012, 01:05:37 PM
Quote
That Daily's there on the corner of Costco and the restaurant creates a bottleneck for sure. That light is a real problem, the way to fix it is to mandate that everyone has to turn right, and then no one will use it. Move the traffic down to Town Center Drive and Gate. The stop signs in that intersection are a joke, no one sees them or uses them.

I've said before on here that I think that entrance to Costco should be closed and the light removed.  You can access costco and the restaurant from Town Center Parkway.  At a minimum maybe they should change it to a right-in right-out only.  No way either of those things will ever happen now though.

Quote
I think it should be required that any repaving or other moderate to major road work that occurs on local roadways that sidewalks or at least wide shoulders should be added for pedestrians and bicyclists.  This would eventually end up with the majority of streets throughout the entire city having sidewalks or shoulders.

It absolutely should be, but it is not.  On Southside Boulevard at the light at the main entrance to the mall (Malabar Boulevard) there are always pedestrians trying cross.  Many of these pedestrians get dropped off at the bus stop at the mall and walk over to get to the school on the east side of Southside.  At the light there is no crosswalk, no ped signal and not enough time to get across the road so you have to stop in the median and wait.  A couple of years ago FDOT resurfaced Southside and I thought for sure they would add ped features at the intersection.  They did not.  I guess they plan on waiting until someone dies before they consider something like that.

TheCat

June 05, 2012, 04:45:20 PM
Interesting...one of the suggestions for this student to make this essay better is to go to different parts of town. For the art, maybe she should have gone. Yet, she's dependent on public transportation and traveling even five miles would take a whole day.

As for the images they are framed nicely. Your eyes know where to look. Each image has a focal point.  The young woman running across the street. The bimmer (a more appropriate car could not have stopped there for this photo op) stopped in the cross walk. The young man trapped in the median. These are all fairly captivating images. 

simms3

June 05, 2012, 05:06:30 PM
Is there a disparity in pedestrian right of ways and access/features between wealthy areas and poor areas?  That could be another idea (to compare say San Marco to Moncrief or Riverside near I-10 to Riverside near the river).

Also, just food for thought, but outside of actually building NEW sidewalks where I live, already built sidewalks are the full responsibility of landowners and not the city.  Landowners always contest fines when the city notices a crack or rupture in the sidewalk in front of their business or home, and the city doesn't necessarily have the means to continually repair every mile of sidewalk, but then that is where the community improvement districts and SPLOST taxes come in.  This is for an area 1/6 the size of Jacksonville and in developed areas with a lot more density, so I would imagine at the very least with Jacksonville's low taxes and spread out nature it would need to rely on unpopular/more creative funding solutions to build and maintain sidewalks.

The bus stations are easy: get Bill Brinton out of the picture and amend the signage law.  That would literally solve that entire problem and allow for more cost effective expansion of bus lines (as well as developing more permanent corridors).

Bridges

June 06, 2012, 08:33:23 AM
I think picture 2 (car in crosswalk) is pretty telling.  I was out in Seattle a few years ago and they take that kind of action very seriously.  I had a rental, and wasn't paying attention at a light so I stopped a little in the crosswalk.  To say I was chided by the pedestrians crossing the street would be an understatement.  They were pretty upset.  Apparently they will ticket that on a regular basis.  It's stuck with me since then and I try to be as conscious of it as possible...even if I'm sometimes a full car length behind the cars on my sides.

In Jacksonville, the pedestrian is such an afterthought.  It's not even considered by most drivers.  It seems that in Jax, the term pedestrian is reserved for the unimportant. 

stephendare

June 06, 2012, 09:36:53 AM
Interesting...one of the suggestions for this student to make this essay better is to go to different parts of town. For the art, maybe she should have gone. Yet, she's dependent on public transportation and traveling even five miles would take a whole day.

As for the images they are framed nicely. Your eyes know where to look. Each image has a focal point.  The young woman running across the street. The bimmer (a more appropriate car could not have stopped there for this photo op) stopped in the cross walk. The young man trapped in the median. These are all fairly captivating images.

Fair points, Cat.  I wouldn't get too worked up about it though, the original art critic just tends to be a negative poster whenever he strays very far from soccer. ;)  Perhaps he just reverted mentally back a couple of weeks earlier when he was in some college lit class scoring points with the professor with his poignant criticisms and provocative insights on other student shortcomings ;)

The essay is just fine, I can't wait to see more from the students!

Abhishek

June 06, 2012, 10:45:37 AM
Photo number three is fantastic. Even though Baymeadows was not constructed to be pedestrian, bike and transit friendly, some steps must be take to accommodate those who chose not to use a car. One can not always choose the location of their job but one must not be forced to purchase a car to stay employed.

I have spent around two years car free in this neighborhood. I walked and used a bike. I had to move to a bike-friendly area to preserve my sanity...even when it meant that I had to purchase a car. This is sad.

tayana42

June 06, 2012, 05:40:45 PM
The photos convey the problems reasonably well. But, is any of this a surprise?  The auto remains king for now and while it rules these problems will continue. 

stephendare

June 06, 2012, 06:31:00 PM
The photos convey the problems reasonably well. But, is any of this a surprise?  The auto remains king for now and while it rules these problems will continue.

actually, thoughtful design alleviates most of these problems, tayana.

a sidewalk and a shelter, for example, would cure the last photo.

Why are we committed to half assedly doing things?

urbaknight

June 08, 2012, 12:01:17 PM
I can't wait for the red light cameras come to town. I've literally been praying for their arrival.

Noone

November 21, 2012, 04:05:51 AM
Photo #6. Travelled up Phillips Hwy. yesterday and new concrete slabs are being installed along this corridor. Elevated so at least you won't be standing in mud when it rains. Appears they are next to Baymeadows in this construction phase. Will this be extended all the way to Downtown? Will the Jaycee benches now be replaced with shelter and benches?
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