As mentioned previously here, a public meeting was held last night to discuss the upcoming project to improve the intersection of Coors Blvd. and Blake Rd. in the South Valley, and its immediate environs.
Despite living only about a mile, as the crow flies, from the intersection, it’s a place I don’t come across much, either driving, cycling or walking. There are reasons for that. So, I thought I’d ride to the meeting at South Valley Academy, located only about 200 feet east of the intersection, and get the “feel” of the place while taking a few pictures.
I can most happily report that I am still alive after having done this. It was touch-and-go there for a minute or two.
To say this intersection is horrible for anybody, particularly folks on a bicycle or walking, is simply not an overstatement. I know I wrote yesterday that Coors/Blake is antiquated traffic engineering, but being on the ground there really gives the sort of “third world,” impending death choking on dust and carbon monoxide while waiting to be impaled by vehicle grills and headlights, feeling I last had walking the streets around the bus terminal on the outskirts of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Again, that’s not overstatement. Let’s look at a few pictures:
5:15 p.m.: After riding up Isleta Drain (i.e., the ditch), across Rio Bravo and Barcelona, I got to Blake and turned west toward the light at Coors. Plenty of cars/trucks and little shoulder was “fun” for a few seconds, before I had to dismount here because…well, you can see why.
5:17 p.m.: At the intersection itself, the intrepid bike/ped explorer enters a lunar world with just enough tire tracks to ponder the likelihood of someone blindly running over you while trying to use this patch of dirt and rocks as an informal right-turn lane. Note the short wall to the right to discourage walkers from “cheating” and missing out on the fine, fine pedestrian amenities of this street corner.
5:20 p.m.: Having survived his walk alongside Blake, we’re now somewhat on Coors looking south. Rush hour traffic dominates the view, but note the well-worn path in the dirt here. Despite the dangers and inadequacies of this intersection, folks are walking here. Quite a bit.
5:21 p.m.: Looking north we can just make out a big reason for the sizable number of pedestrians. There’s a bus stop near those lighted signs on the northbound shoulder. No, there’s no sidewalk to the bus stop, just the gully. Must be real fun when it rains, especially since the corner establishment keeps that retaining wall running the length of the business, aside from a single driveway.
5:22 p.m.: Yeah, but why would anybody walk in this insanely dangerous area, unless they were getting on a bus? The next three blurry photos attempt to explain. Here’s the brand-new Wendy’s. You can barely make it out, but it’s open until 1 a.m. weekdays and 2 a.m. on the weekends.
5:24 p.m.: And here’s an incredibly bad photo of the big, new “Murphy’s Express” gas station. The photo is trying to capture that the place sells beer.
5:26 p.m.: And in a photo so blurry I’m not foisting it on you, the old Allsup’s, bane of the neighborhood for reasons I’ll get into in my next post, also sells beer.
So there’s plenty of reasons to walk, or ride a bike I guess, at, in and around the intersection of Coors and Blake. And at least one of those reasons includes the likelihood that someone a little or a lot tipsy is doing the walking. As for me, I can report I will NEVER ride a bicycle, or walk, at the intersection of Coors and Blake again until the scheduled improvements are in place. Heck, I rode east on Blake back to Isleta Blvd. and, despite Blake being an official area “bike route,” can report that it’s WAY too scary, at least for me. And probably just about anybody else.
From a multi-modal transportation perspective, the whole corridor is medieval, Coors included, of course. In my next post, we’ll get into the planned improvements (Spoiler Alert: They aren’t perfect). Until then and until these imperfect improvements are in place, thoughts, worries and best wishes to those intrepidly biking and walking anywhere near this intersection.