e_pics submitted the above photo to our Flickr Group. This photo is from Silver Spring Street at the entrance to Walmart. e_pics says he happened to run into the person who posted this sign who said he posted it because his daughter kept getting splashed by cars speeding down the street while waiting at the bus stop.
Putting aside for a moment any person or political considerations about Walmart, this store fills a need for people in the city. It is well accessible via public transit, RIPTA has even printed a handy “Charles Street/Walmart” schedule (which is not available online) listing all the buses which run to this location. Being as many of Walmart’s customers are poor and do not have access to cars, this is quite smart. However, this area is not designed with pedestrians or bus riders in mind, it is designed for cars.
For whatever reason, the entrance to Walmart does not have a standard red, yellow, green traffic light, rather is has flashing red and yellow with a push button activation for the walk light. As a result, traffic on Silver Spring does not have to stop with any degree of frequency. While a flashing yellow light means proceed with caution, in practice cars simply speed down Silver Spring as if no light was there at all, as a result, people at the bus stop get splashed by speeding autos. Luckily so far, the worst that is happening to pedestrians is splashing.
When this Walmart was built, the city and Walmart had the opportunity to create a more urban friendly store. The plaza that was here was torn down to build the new Walmart, so the Walmart really could have been built anywhere on the site, such as closer to the intersection of Silver Spring and Charles Street where the Wendy’s is. The Walmart could have opened to the street with parking beside it. However this did not happen and instead we have a typical suburban style Walmart set back from the street with an ocean of parking for pedestrians and bus riders to cross in the heart of the city.
The opportunity to build this plaza better has passed, it is built. However the opportunity to ensure this area works as well as it can for pedestrians and transit riders has not passed. Turning this light into a regular red, yellow, green signal would be a first step towards calming traffic on Silver Spring.