I walked across El Camino Real - once. This road, once the main thoroughfare through Silicon Valley, is now a 50 mile long strip mall of motels, gas stations, mattress stores, car rental places, fast food, and one major university. Every business or shopping center along its length has a parking lot. In the utopia of sprawl, El Camino Real would be Main Street.
I once had to walk across it because I was staying at a hotel on one side, and it so happened that my team at work was having an offsite at the restaurant on the other side. Thinking that getting into my car just to cross El Camino would be the height of ridiculousness, I walked out of the hotel, through the hundred feet or so of landscaped approach areas designed only for cars and lacking a sidewalk, then across the six-lane medianstripped road, and then through another hundred feet on the other side of wide driveway and parking lot designed to help cars easily approach the complex but lacking any consideration for pedestrians.
I was the only person not in a car as far as the eye could see. It was creepy.
But buses do ply El Camino, and many of the train stations are right off the road there. With so many shops and most of the scarce public transit the valley does have, it could actually be a vibrant public way. But I’d never really thought about it, so desolate and unfriendly to humans not ensconced in tons of metal is this road. Fortunately, the Project for Public Spaces and San Mateo County, the northern half of the valley from the San Francisco border to the edge of Stanford University, realized maybe El Camino could be a little bit more.
PPS has an PPS article about this “Peninsula Corridor Plan” in their newsletter and a page touting their experience, but I can’t find the actual plan. I could find pieces of the plan for some of the individual cities along the corridor, Belmont and San Carlos, but it’d be nice if PPS actually put their plan on the Web.