Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Los Angeles’ Category

It’s been five months since my last public confession ūüôā ¬†After five insanely busy months, I have the time to breathe and update those on what I’ve been consumed with.

For almost three years, I had been persistently and patiently working on two dream projects of mine: ¬†to bring the first ‘Open Streets’ to Columbus as well as piloting Columbus’ first ‘parklet.’ ¬†For those reading this that don’t know, ‘Open Streets’ is a free initiative that temporarily closes streets down to autos and opens them up for people to engage in fun, healthy activities like yoga, biking, breakdancing, and more. ¬†It’s all about experiencing streets as public spaces. ¬†When I was a kid, I played in the streets ALL the time. ¬†I rode my bike with my best friends and that’s just what we did. ¬†These days, streets are too dangerous. ¬†Playgrounds are built far away from the streets because the dangers of motor vehicle speeds and distracted drivers have reigned supremacy.

The ‘parklet.’ ¬†A ‘parklet’ is when you convert on-street parking spaces into ‘people’ spaces. ¬†I remember having this conversation with my friend Liz over two years ago. ¬†We met for coffee and I said, ‘Liz, I wanna pilot a parklet and I want to use one of your places.’ ¬†Without hesitation, she said, ‘absolutely.’

As one of my favorite people says, ‘Sometimes you have to turn things upside down to get them right-side up’ (Fred Kent). ¬†I whole-heartedly believe this with every ounce of my being. ¬†My two dreams projects did just that, turned things upside down. ¬† When it comes to parking and road space we’ve given too much to the vehicle that when we try to do what’s right and step in and change it, people go cray! ¬†The idea of closing downtown streets to cars to let people of all ages and abilities ‘play’ in them raised eyebrows. ¬†No matter if I came to them showing them the data of other cities putting on ‘Open Streets’ and how ridiculously successful it was/is. ¬†Successful from a public health angle. ¬†Successful from a business economics angle. ¬†Successful from a community engagement angle. ¬†Successful from a broader encouragement of multi-modal transportation. ¬†‘Open Streets’ has transformed cities across the U.S. ¬†Aside from the hard data, I had the privilege of experiencing Los Angeles’ ‘CicLAvia’ last April. ¬†When you think Los Angeles, you think of boxtox and traffic; ‘carmaggedon.’ ¬†Los Angeles’ CicLAvia / Open Streets has been such a raging success that they put on 3 / year and close anywhere between 6-12 miles of Los Angeles streets. ¬†That is not a typo people. ¬†The one I experienced last April, tens of THOUSANDS of people came out and participated in playing and owning their streets – free from motor vehicle danger. ¬†What resonated with me, as I stood in the middle of Wilshire Blvd was that so many families and people of all ages and backgrounds wanted to come and have a safe place to ride or play. ¬†There aren’t enough safe places to ride and we just don’t slow down enough to appreciate our environment. ¬†We have the ability to change our built environment when we realize the TRUE potential. ¬†That’s why Open Streets has been so important to me. ¬†I’ve seen what it does to people and cities.

After almost three years, organizations such as People For Bikes, Transit Columbus, Jeni’s, New Belgium Brewing, Capital Crossroads SID, Columbus Public Health , CD 102.5, Mt. Carmel East, Eccolyfe Designs, CDDC, Skreened, ID2014, and the Great Photobooth; stepped up to the plate and said, ‘we get it and they all invested.’ ¬†On Sunday, September 21st, Columbus joined the long list of other Open Streets cities. ¬†We closed 0.8 miles of downtown Rich St. ¬†I have to say it was a fantastic FIRST Open Streets for this city. ¬†Columbus still has a long way to go in order to be a contending ‘bike-friendly’ city. ¬†We’re making great progress but we have a long way to go. ¬†We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback about Open Streets Columbus. ¬†Our goal is to aim for ‘2’ Open Streets next year. ¬†Success with an initiative like this cannot come overnight. ¬†It must be recurring so people understand the concept and purpose. ¬†With all the people and kids that came out and enjoyed the day, they now understand why Open Streets is so effective and successful. ¬†All of those people will be future cheerleaders- spreading the Open Streets Columbus love as we put on future events.

I loved seeing how many kids were there.  I loved watching the parents not have any fear b/c that fear had been removed.  People laying a blanket out in the middle of the street b/c they could.  Getting people to look at their streets differently; seeing their streets as public spaces instead of only cars and parking is why Open Streets is so effective.

Here are some fun photos from Sept. 21st:

photo 2

We had about 18 high school students from the Mosiac school volunteer.  They loved it and we loved having them!

photo 4

Early on jenga users

headstand open streets challenge

Headstand challenge at the intersection of High and Rich. ¬†I can bet ¬†this is something you don’t see everyday!
open streets kids

So many people loved having the Rich St. bridge all to themselves.  Headstands, hangtime, biking, breakdancing, ska

teboarding and more. photo 3

POGA Columbus held their last ‘pop-up’ yoga for the summer at Open Streets. ¬†What a great crowdphoto 4

Our ‘Scioto Beach’ was one of the biggest successes of Open Streets. ¬†Yep, we built a small beach on the Rich St. Bridge. ¬†Kid approved!zeke open streets

 

The comment above is the reason I have fought for Open Streets for so long.  This is exactly how we want people to feel.

Switch gears to the ‘Columbus Parklet Project.’ ¬†We had the great opportunity to unveil Columbus’ first parklet at the great Independents’ 2014. ¬†Getting more eyes and butts in the parklet would only help generate more buzz for the 30 day pilot over at Dirty Franks downtown. ¬†It sure did. It just so happened that unveiling the parklet at ID2014, was the same weekend as Open Streets Columbus. ¬†Needless to say, I was stressed, excited, anxious, and hopeful. ¬†No NEW project would be complete without its obstacles and we sure had some of those. ¬†But, you push through and you take every moment as a teaching moment which I did.

The parklet was a great success at ID2014. ¬†The following week it was moved outside of Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace where it’ll be there for one month for the public to embrace (hopefully). ¬†Again, this is a concept happening in other cities that are getting people and businesses to re-imagine the potential within our city streets. ¬†Over 82% of drivers are single occupancy. ¬†You drive your car to Dirty Franks, you park right out front and its YOU…one person. ¬†You remove that parking space, convert it to ‘people space’ allowing people to sit, eat their lunch, converse, and just be visible to other drivers passing by, you automatically create buzz. ¬†If you’re a business owner giving people a place to sit and stay for while, chances are they’ll spend money. ¬†The idea of the one month pilot is to introduce the concept to both the people of Columbus and business owners. ¬†The sky won’t fall if you remove one parking space usually taken up by ONE person and you convert it to where 12+ people can share and enjoy it. ¬†We’ll collect data over the month during different times of the day as well as public feedback. ¬†Thus far, its been super successful (minus a few haters and there always will be). ¬†The Columbus Parklet Project had great support from businesses such as: MKSK Designs, Dirty Franks, Kaufman Development, Creath Landscape Design, Drift Industry, DRAC, Eccolyfe Designs, Columbus Eye, Square One Salon & Spa, and Wolf’s Ridge Brewing. ¬†What really catches my eye is that every one of these businesses has nothing to do with the other. ¬†They all come from different backgrounds yet they all see the Columbus Parklet Project as a great, fresh concept and are willing to invest. ¬†Our goal is to get buy-in from this 30 day pilot to where we are able to expand and build new parklets with new designs in different parts of Columbus. ¬†These small ‘interventions’ within our streets can become ‘destinations’ for people. ¬†Parklets are part of the ‘lighter, quicker, cheaper’ strategy that many cities are embracing. ¬†When people can be a part of a project from beginning to end there’s more personal investment that happens and a sense of ownership and pride.

I had some incredible people step up to help make this first parklet a reality: Ryan, Michael, Carey, Jess, Jerry, and Sarah.

Here are couple photos.  I encourage you to take a jaunt over to Dirty Franks within the next month.  Purchase a dog and have a seat in the parklet.

parklet phase 2

The beginning stages.parklet progress

 

Setting up before the big ID2014 weekend.

parklet id

Lots of traffic during Independents’ weekend. ¬†first parklet DF

Ryan and Michael finishing up moving the parklet from Franklinton to downtown
safe_imageThe Columbus Dispatch published a piece on the parklet this past weekend.

And those are two of the projects I’ve been up to:) ¬†These two projects have meant so much to me¬†and I believe that with time and iterations of both, the people of Columbus will embrace. ¬†I look forward to both Open Streets Columbus and the Columbus Parklet Project expanding and becoming initiatives that people support and want to be a part of.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Last week, I returned from a week long trip to Los Angeles. ¬†I was awarded by the wonderful Alliance for Biking & Walking, a seat at their National ‘Open Streets’ Conference. ¬†If any of you reading this don’t know what Open Streets is its an initiative where you temporarily close streets down to autos and open them up for the people. ¬†During this time which is¬†between 4-8hrs of street closure and usually on a Sunday, car traffic is replaced with people traffic. ¬†People can bike, walk, skateboard, do yoga, dance, sit, and many other activities. Open Streets is an initiative I’ve been obsessed about for well over three years. ¬†The first time I had heard about it and saw pictures, I immediately knew the benefits that a movement like this could produce for cities.

There have been well over 90 documented Open Streets here in the U.S. alone and global cities such¬†Cape Town, Bogota, and Wellington hold ‘Open Streets’ initiatives of their own. ¬†In Bogota, its such a way of life that ‘Ciclovia’ happens every Sunday. ¬†What’ s so appealing about Open Streets? ¬†Well, when we, as adults think of ‘playing’ in the streets, we think of only childhood memories. ¬†We’ve become so engrained with streets ‘belonging’ to cars and that’s it. ¬†WRONG. ¬†Streets are under utilized. ¬†They are so much more than parking and traffic.

How is an initiative like Open Streets different than say a festival or block party? ¬† I’m glad you asked. ¬†The core objectives are fundamentally different. Indeed, Open Streets are typically part of a broader city or organizational effort to encourage sustained physical activity, increase community engagement, and build support for the provision of broader transportation choices.

The National Open Streets Conference I attended brought experts from cities all over the U.S., Africa, and New Zealand to share experiences and best practices about their planning process of Open Streets.  Substanial data has been collected that shows how transformational holding an Open Streets in your city can be (feast yourself on delicious data here:  www.openstreetsproject.com)

I remember last week, Jeff Miller of the Alliance asked aloud, ‘raise your hand if this will be your first CicLAvia.’ ¬†A few of us (including myself) raised our hands. ¬†Immediately, you heard the crowd make an ‘oooooooooooh’ remark meaning, you’re mind’s going to be blown. ¬†My spunky response was, ‘no shit.’ ¬†I knew what I was prepared for. ¬†CicLAvia is Los Angeles’ ‘Open Streets.’ ¬†The demand for CicLAvia is so high that L.A. now holds CicLAvia three times a year. ¬†Their most recent route was six miles of street closure…. on the iconic Wilshire Blvd. ¬†Let me repeat myself SIX MILES OF STREET CLOSURE… for six hours.

Los Angeles aka ‘Carmageddon’ / traffic sewer city of the U.S. has one of the most successful Open Streets movements in the world. ¬†Over 100,000 people come and enjoy miles upon miles of car-free streets. ¬†Being able to experience L.A.s CicLAvia was a dream for me. ¬†My pictures didn’t do justice for the sights that I saw. ¬†I think my favorite visions were of ALL of the families. ¬†So many families out enjoying their city at a slow pace. ¬† Nobody got angry. ¬†No aggressive horns. ¬†No cars intimidating you. ¬†Strangers smiling and talking to one another. ¬†Businesses along the route bolstering with people hopping off their bikes and supporting. ¬†Music on corners, art being painted, and streets being alive. ¬†

One of the most powerful acknowledgements happened. ¬†My friend Marc said, ‘look around at all these families. ¬†It’s not that there’s a deficiency of families not being able to afford bikes, its the fact that they don’t feel like there’s a safe place to ride.’ ¬†When he said that aloud, it slapped me in the face. ¬†I saw families with four and five kids; all of them had bikes. ¬†It was so true. ¬†And I wonder, how that relates to here in Columbus. ¬†There’s also a huge health undertone to this initiative. ¬†Not only are these initiatives reimaging streets where people walk and bike as a form of transportation, but, there’s such an appeal to this ‘urban playground’ where people are out for hours being physically active. ¬†I remember I thought I would be at CicLAvia for only 3-4 hours. ¬†Nopers. ¬†I was there from 830am -4p! ¬†You take your time and stop along the route and engage in activities. ¬†You talk to people. ¬†You stop in the middle of the street and let the sun shine on your face, why? ¬†Because you can! ¬†

After my conference, I came back here and have been more dedicated than ever before of making Columbus Open Streets a reality in 2014. ¬†I have the best momentum that I’ve had in all 2 1/2 years I’ve been trying to put this thing together. ¬†I know that once Columbus gets a taste of the first Open Streets, the demand will be created and there WILL be more. ¬†The beautiful thing about Open Streets is that it attracts such a wide variety of audiences coming from numerous neighborhoods where just like San Francisco’s ‘Sunday Streets’ this initiative can move from one community to another, showcasing the uniqueness of each neighborood.¬† This movement connects people. ¬†

The city of Columbus has approved 1.4 miles of downtown street closure for the first Open Streets. ¬†The tentative date; Sunday September 28th from 10a-2p. ¬†While it’s not six miles, it’s a great first ‘Open Streets’ route. ¬†Again, this first Open Streets will introduce both the people of this city and city staff to how effective and beneficial Open Streets are, and the subsequent ones to follow will be that much easier to organize. ¬† I’ll keep y’all updated on Columbus’ progress. ¬†Also, if any of you reading this have businessses that would be interested in supporting financially, message me. ¬† ¬†

Enjoy the pics.

photo 2 (3)

Woman just cruisin’ down Wilshire.

photo 1 (19)

From left:  Erika, Misty, and Ryan.  My CicLAvia peepsphoto 3 (3)

 

Of course, dogs have a place in these kinds of initiatives!
photo 3 (11)

Walking herephoto 4 (10)

This was the cutest!  Father and daughter time.  My heart filled up seeing this sight time and time again.photo 3 (12)

 

So of course, I spoke to this dude. ¬†He was awesome. ¬†He comes to CicLAvia every time it happens. ¬†He loves it and thinks it’s wonderful for the all the people.photo 4 (12)

One of the businesses filled up with people supporting local businessphoto 4 (18)

Right when CicLAvia started in the morning.  I caught this little guy.  photo 1 (12)

 

One of the many wonderful volunteers keeping order during the mandatory dismount zone.  photo 3 (9)

Just a bunch of people, waiting at the red light. ¬†Wouldn’t you rather this than lines of cars? ¬†Can’t get any more human than this!
photo 2 (12)

 

The dismount zone / pedestrian zone.  
erica 4

 

There’s me! ¬†I was just so swoonie seeing all the kids having so much fun! ¬†Growing up and being a part of this movement!photo 2 (7)

This image captures the essence of what streets can look like when you replace car traffic with beautiful people traffic.  photo 1 (6)

 

As far as the eye can see…… ¬†PEOPLE bringing the streets to life.

Read Full Post »

A quote from Angela Hunt which I find to be very fitting with my mood these last few weeks. ¬†If you want to get noticed, you do something bold. ¬†When I think of bold artists I think of people like David Carson, ¬†Kiriakos Iosifidis, Woody Allen, Ishita Gupta, Lynn Hershman – this list could be endless. ¬†Hell, I’ll even put up a little Columbus love and throw in Jeni Britton Bauer – local visionary at its finest.

When I think of visionary and bold cities I think of San Francisco. New York City, ¬†D.C., Los Angeles and Boston. ¬†Why do I think of these cities?? ¬†I think of these cities b/c when it comes to their city’s walking and biking infrastructure – they are visionary; they are bold.

In 2006, an injunction was imposed for four years restricting any physical improvements for bicycles in San Francisco. ¬†No bike lanes, no sharrows, no bike signage, nada. ¬†An ‘environmental review’ was to be done to evaluate potential impacts from the San Francisco Bikeways Plan in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). ¬†Once the environmental review was finished, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) approved the Bikeways Plan in 2009. ¬†In 2010, the injunction was lifted. ¬†In a matter of a couple months, 35 bike lanes projects were slated to begin and most of those projects have completed. ¬†There’s been an increase in bicycle ridership of over 53%. ¬†Their bold goal: ¬†Connecting the City is by 2020 seeing 100 miles of crosstown bikeways and having individuals from eight to eighty bicycle safely through their city. ¬†I use to live there. ¬†I try to get there twice a year and each time I’m there, I’m in awe at their advancement and their vision to make bicycling a priority in their city. ¬†It’s beautiful.

New York City – Janette Sadik-Khan. ¬†For those who know her, she is NYC’s Transportation Commissioner and is kicking serious ass. ¬†In four years, Janette and city leaders striped over 240 miles of bike lanes. ¬†Bicycle commuting has increased in NYC about 44%. ¬†Janette Sadik-Khan and PPS transformed Time Square and permanently closed Broadway to traffic re-creating the area completely around people. ¬†‘Brass is good’ ¬†Janette stated in a video interview she gave about a month ago and I couldn’t agree more. ¬†You can’t always choose ‘Vanilla’ just because you know its good and it’ll never let you down – sometimes you need to choose ‘Queen City Cayenne,’ to kick your ass and reinforce that you’re alive

D.C. currently has the biggest, baddest and boldest bike share system in the U.S.  with over 1,100 bikes and over 100 stations and more are due to be installed this year.  New York City will easily beat this by April of 2012 with 10,000 bikes and 600 stations.  Along with D.C. currently having the biggest success with their bike share, they have innovative and bold bike infrastructure Рa cycle track down Pennsylvania Ave, contr-flow cycle track on 15th st and New Hampshire Ave and more bike lanes all through their city.  I was there last March for the Annual D.C. Bicycle Summit and the four days that I was there, I, with ease, used a different mode of transportation, every day (walk, bike, bus and metro).  I moved through D.C. with complete ease and NO car.

Los Angeles, I can say confidently is leading the charge and turning heads with their incredible attendance numbers from their ‘Ciclavias.’ ¬†The term Ciclovia is a Spanish term which means ‘bike path’ in English. ¬†Ciclovia’s are exploding here in the U.S. ¬†When a Ciclovia happens, a street is shut down to motor vehicles and is re-humanized for a few hours. ¬†You bike, walk, skip, dance, play basketball, yoga, musicians, whatever you want, you can have; you just can’t have cars. ¬†Ciclovia’s celebrate streets as public places and you get connected with your community, your surroundings as well as enjoying life in a slowed down pace. ¬†LA has done three Ciclavia’s thus far. ¬†The last one they did, they shut down over 10 miles of streets and humanized these streets with over 300,000 men, women, and children for four hours. ¬†Those numbers are NOT a typo. ¬†10 miles, throughout LA, one of the most congested cities in the United States – that’s BOLD.

These cities are taking chances. ¬†They are using bicycle infrastructure that isn’t necessarily ‘approved’ in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). ¬†which is a manual that engineers live and die by. ¬†If traffic-controlled devices aren’t approved in the MUTCD chances are we won’t implement which brings me back to BOLD and VISIONARY. ¬†These other cities that are kicking Columbus’ ass when it comes to bicycle ridership and infrastructure. ¬†Why is that? ¬†These cities are designing their streets and using infrastructure that may not be ‘approved’ in the MUTCD but these ‘best practices’ have been overwhelmingly successful in Europe hence, one of the main reasons why bicycle commuting is so much higher (some countries have close to 40% bicycle commuting).

2012 is going to be a VERY critical year here in Columbus. ¬†I think our city and key decision makers really need to step it up and ‘walk the walk’. ¬†If we want to be ‘Bike City USA,’ we need infrastructure. ¬†We need to experiment with more bike boxes, buffered bike lanes, colored bike lanes, better signage, bicycle designated signals. ¬†We need to re-allocated our roads so that cars don’t drive 45-55mph down our 5-8 lane downtown streets. ¬†You design a street that’s inviting and makes people want to ‘stay,’ you get more eyes on the street, you get safer streets and you get a more ‘human’ street. ¬†By the way… ¬†the Columbus Commons WILL NOT SUCCEED if we do not slow down streets like 3rd and 4th. ¬†The Scioto Mile, this summer the city should experiment with closing the street down for one Sunday a month to cars. ¬†Create a pedestrian street like many other cities have already been doing. ¬†Take chances. ¬†Be bold. ¬†Stop playing ‘follow the leader’ and actually BE the leader.

 

Read Full Post »