I occasionally stop by the Below The Beltline website because once in blue moon it has an update. Last week Lundsford Lane was in a grouchy mood when he took aim at the Planning Commission’s requesting a bike rack for a proposed gas station at the corner of Sunnybrook Drive and Rock Quarry Road.
Mamta Patel, aka Earth Petroleum VI Inc., Earth Mama, who goes by Ricky, is building a gas station at the corner of Rock Quarry Road and Sunnybrook Drive. Six pump islands under one giant canopy, no waiting, no getting wet when the weather is nasty.
So Little Ricky turns in the site plan to the Planning Commission, which must give its blessing to build. Only one problem, say the Commissioners – no bike racks. So Ricky agrees to add one rack to accommodate two bikes. After all, it’s Earth Petroleum, you can’t get greener than that. Never mind that there is no bike path near there, no sidewalk connection, and it takes a death wish to ride a bike through that intersection.
We spent millions to rebuild Hillsborough Street to improve traffic flow and instead get dangerous accident-prone roundabouts and all-day gridlock. We’re building a $60 million train station with no near-term prospects for new trains. And now we’re requiring gas stations that are not safely accessible by bicycle or foot to have bike racks. Apparently in Raleigh, even bikes need gas.
“Only in America,” said Mother Love Patel.
Being a persnickety kind of guy I decided to see for myself, so I pulled up the site in question using Google Maps:
What do I see? I see the brand-new Walnut Creek Elementary School at the corner, surrounded by new neighborhoods. I see sidewalks everywhere, including at the proposed site. And, while there’s no sidewalks on the northwest quadrant of that intersection, there are what appear to be fully-functioning crosswalks at that intersection. If you’ve got a school across the street, I can flat out guarantee you that you’ll have kids heading to the store after school. Some will be on bikes, too. Of course, there will also be store patrons coming from these surrounding neighborhoods and some may even be wandering up from the greenway being built to nearby Walnut Creek park. Are these folks just expected to chain their bikes to the gas pumps?
The point of planning is to anticipate future needs. That sidewalk missing today will materialize the day the adjoining property gets built (which, if its anything like the rest of the area, will be sooner rather than later). Hillsborough Street was truly a pedestrian death trap and a dying commercial zone to boot before the road improvements were made.
Lundsford has obviously never taken the train anywhere, either. If he had, he would know how ludicrously small Raleigh’s current train station is compared to the crowd it serves. He would also know that North Carolina’s Amtrak ridership has grown faster than any other area in the country.
Again, planning for the future. I’m disappointed to hear that ol’ Lundsford Lane is off his game.