It's difficult to be a new urbanist at an Extended Stay

I�ve stayed in a few Extended Stays over the last couple of years. The one thing that you can count on when staying at "the Stay" is that you will not be at the center of all the action. You will need a car to get anywhere. This should come as no shock as the Stay is always found somewhere in the suburbs, and they generally pop up where land is cheap, and easy access to a highway is a marketing plus. A bit over a year ago, I spent about two months at one in Temecula, a town in California�s "Inland Empire." (I think history will remember the great empires as Mayan, Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman, Ming and Inland.) When I first arrived to the hotel, best as I could tell, Temecula was a shopping plaza that extended for about 3 or 4 highway exits.
After exploring Temecula for a couple of weeks, my initial assessment seemed to be spot on. You could get anywhere you needed to be, say one of the local taco establishments (Taco El Gordo, Del Taco, Los Amigos Taco Shop, La Casa Del Taco), by navigating any of the 4 or 6-lane plus center turn lane arteries, and taking careful note of which overpass is nearest should you need to be on the other side of the interstate-bisected town. Some of the main drags in town even feature double left-turn lanes. Ahh, California. You could theoretically walk around Temecula, but no one does. When streets are intended for highway like volumes of cars and there are oceans of ample surface parking surrounding whatever taco shop oasis is your destination, why would one possibly walk? Turns out that large parking lots are no places for pedestrians with the intra-shopping plaza traffic. I nearly lost a limb crossing a "parking lot thruway" where a truck was doing what felt like 40 mph judging from the gust of wind.
Photo: Temecula, California.
More recently, I found myself at a Stay by the Philadelphia Airport. The highway sign for the exit affectionately refers to the area as Cargo City. And the DOT seems to have accurately described what the area is best suited to - a collection of discount hotels in one direction, and airport support services and off-airport parking in the other. There was just about nothing, save for a Ruby Tuesdays, accessible by foot from this Stay. After checking in late one evening, I drove around looking for a convenience store or deli or some place where I could pick up a snack and a beverage. The nearest such place was about 2 � miles away. A few days later when I found a grocery store, I stocked up on no-preparation food, coffee, and even managed to find those little tiny filters that fit a hotel room 4-cup coffee maker.
Though Philadelphia is a big city, it�s the kind of place where it seems everyone still has a car. Everyone in this case means 87% of households. I�ve only spent a couple of days at a time in Philadelphia, but it does seem that with a bit of planning, getting around with SEPTA, trains, and trolleys could be quite convenient. I even spotted an abundance of bike lanes, though I�ve been warned that the snakes of active and inactive trolley tracks require that extra operator attention be given.
Just as I was heading out of town, I realized the R1 train could have dropped me off not too far from my Stay. Perhaps next time I�ll have to inquire if there�s a courtesy shuttle that can take me to a bar in the airport food court for a late night snack�
Photo: Philadelphia subway system.

0 Response to "It's difficult to be a new urbanist at an Extended Stay"

Post a Comment