I predicted in June, 2014 that the “Green Line” – the light-rail between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul – would kill three people and account for a dozen vehicle accidents in its first year. It turned out to be two dead, I’m not sure how many vehicle accidents – and even more injured pedestrians than I’d figured.
Partly because the pedestrian “interface” for the Green Line stations and right of way is a complete joke.
And now, a reporter is talking about it – and I suspect the PiPress’ Maja Beckstrom is thankful she can talk about it. She relates the story of a recent close call, at University and Raymond:
Until now, I’d assumed that the people who have been hit by light rail in the Twin Cities were wearing ear buds and spacing out. I figured they were the kind of people who strolled straight down the rails and on the shoulders of busy streets, who crossed against red lights and took chances. Now I wonder if they were just like me, a bit confused and in a very wrong place at the wrong time.
I’m a regular bus commuter and no stranger to public transit, but I’d ridden light rail only once before. I decided at the last minute to catch it to work in downtown St. Paul. I was by Raymond Avenue dropping off a kid at summer camp, so I parked my car on a side street and walked down to University Avenue, where I could see the Raymond Avenue Station to my left halfway down the block. The pedestrian light turned green, and I walked across University’s westbound traffic lane. I figured there would be a sidewalk running up the middle of the street from the intersection to the station. Makes sense, right?
And I’m not the only one:
[The Transit cops who yelled at her after her close call] told me about the two people who have been hit and killed on the Green Line. They told me about a woman who was standing between train lines who was knocked by one train toward another oncoming train and who survived only because the fast-thinking driver of the oncoming train sped up so she fell into the side of the train rather than into its path. I later looked up the statistics. Eight pedestrians have been struck since testing began in January 2014 on the Green Line between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.
“In your defense, that intersection isn’t well designed,” one cop finally conceded, as he mellowed in the face of my contrite confession. “People get confused.”
In my day job, I try to design things to make sense for real people. And the design of the Central Corridor’s stations astounds me.
Yet again – big government at work.