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Driving Next Door For Dinner

September 13, 2010 Accessibility, Planning & Design, Smoke Free, Travel 2 Comments

Friday September 3rd I stayed the night in Joplin MO. Next door to the hotel was a Fazoli’s (map).

ABOVE: View of Fazoli's from my car in the hotel parking lot.
ABOVE: View of Fazoli's from my car in the hotel parking lot.

The distance from the hotel to the restaurant is not far, even for me. It was a nice day and a walk after 4+ hours of driving would have been nice.  But walking through auto drives, over numerous curbs and through grass was not an obstacle course I wanted to deal with when I was tired.

You know I get that everyone visiting this highway adjacent section of Joplin will be arriving by car as I did.  That doesn’t mean that once there we should be forced to use our car to visit adjacent businesses.

Since I was getting in my car to go to dinner I thought I’d go someplace nicer, it would cost more but I was on vacation.  I crossed I-44 to the North and arrived at the Olive Garden. I prefer local places, but I didn’t want to take the time to look.  I walked in the door of the Olive Garden where I was greeted with a question I hadn’t heard in a long time; “Do you have a smoking preference?” I was suddenly reminded I live in a backwards state. I politely informed them I wanted a nice meal which, by my definition, doesn’t include smoke. I turned around and left.  I drove back to the area where my hotel was but I pulled into the Fazoli’s next door.

ABOVE: View of my blue Toyota and the hotel in the background
ABOVE: View of my blue Toyota Corolla and the hotel in the background

A couple of points about the above picture.  First, us disabled folks don’t always get the best parking spots.  There was an empty spot next to the white car, right in front of the door.  Where I parked wasn’t the closest space, but it was the best for me. The loading zone allows me to open my driver’s door fully to make exit & entry possible.  Second the lack of a curb reduces the chances of a fall. So while us disabled folks may get parking nearest the entrance, we often do not.  The SUV, above, is also parked in a disabled spot. Had both spaces been empty I still would have taken the farther spot because of the access on the driver’s side. If the other space had been the only one free I would have backed into the space.  OK, back to the lack of walkability of this area.

To have the walk next to the Fazoli’s run south to the property line to meet a walk from the hotel would have been easy to do if someone had given it any thought.  More importantly if Joplin had required the developer of this area to plan for walkability between parcels.

ABOVE: Couple staying at same hotel walk to Fazoli's
ABOVE: Couple staying at same hotel walk to Fazoli's

After I finished my dinner I noticed a couple walking to Fazoli’s.  You might look at this and say my idea of a walkable sidewalk to connect the two establishments is unnecessary.  But a test of good walkability is if a parent can push a baby stroller or a person can wheel in a wheelchair.  Neither is possible here.

ABOVE: Aerial view of area with the Fazoli's & Microtel on the right
ABOVE: Aerial view of area with the Fazoli's & Microtel on the right. Image: Google Streetview

What about guests at the hotel on the left? Or employees & clients of the Social Security Administration in the lower left corner?

The days of many square miles of cities being connected by a fine grid of roads, sidewalks and transit are long gone.  People will arrive here by car but they should have the option to walk within the immediate vicinity if they want.  We should be designing pockets of areas that are walkable within their area.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Driving Next Door For Dinner

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