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Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Commons’

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.

 

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Ladies. ¬†The details about the August have been set. ¬†This month we’ll be celebrating ‘Parks.’ Parks de’ jour will be the theme of our ride. ¬†Parks are so important and slowly but surely, more parks are popping up which is so important when creating and maintaining a sustainable city / community. ¬†You gather in parks. ¬†You spend time in parks. ¬†You create friendships and conversations in parks. ¬†Parks are community building and neighborhood building.

We will begin with our meet n greet at Caffe Apropos on the corner of 3rd and Michigan in Harrison West at 6p. ¬†Close to seven, we’ll ride off and visit parks: ¬†Goodale, The Columbus Commons, Genoa, Scioto Mile, and Fetch Park. ¬†During the middle of our ride, we’ll be stopping at the awesome ‘walk up’ Jeni’s in German Village ūüôā ¬†Bring cash if you want Jeni’s.

Bring your moms, bring your kids, bring your girlfriends or just bring yourself.  This ride is about women empowerment on two wheels.  Women are the majority transportation with our kids so showing the kids at an early age that the bicycle can be just as reliable as the car is essential.

We had close to forty women join us for July’s ride. ¬†Incredible. ¬†Let’s expand!

We will also be supporting two local businesses as well.  Showing that bicycles stimulate the economy just as much as drivers is also important when it comes to future bicycle development, like taking away a parking spot and putting in an on-street bike corral that parks 12 bikes instead of one car.  People first!

If you have any questions about August’s ride, please email me. ¬†My contact email is under the ‘About’ tab. ¬†I look forward to seeing you all ūüôā

 

Be safe and keep riding!

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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.

 

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If Columbus’ winter maintained a consistent 55+ degree winter, I would NOT complain nearly as much as I do about winters here. ¬†I have circulation issues with my extremities in the winter. ¬†My toes are constantly number and certain fingers are colder than others. ¬†I have self-diagnosed this issue as¬†raynaud’s syndrome – which is a constriction/circulation issue of the extremities. ¬†However, last Friday was a great day. ¬†It was super sunny and lots of people were out – layered up and riding their bikes. ¬†Thank you Global Warming for the mild temps we’ve been having… keep it up.

Keep riding!

 

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There were quite a few riders out there yesterday. ¬†It’s been quite mild for winter here which I LOVE. ¬†This fancy fellas, I just randomly ran into. ¬†Look how happy they are, I know bicycling has something to do with it. ¬†They are ready to dominate those city streets. ¬†Or, maybe their thinking about lunch.

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First off, did you sing the subject line like Frank Sinatra’s, ‘I’m in the mood for love’ song because that’s where I was going with it ūüôā

I’ve been given the privilege of reading top secret biking data recently. ¬†Well, maybe not top secret but it hasn’t been published yet so I feel honored ūüôā ¬†Anywho, I noticed a picture in the reading that just made me swoon. ¬†I think it was of Ninth Ave. in NYC. ¬†It was the epitome of a ‘Complete Street’ – imo. ¬†A dedicated lane for buses, a dedicated lane for cars, a dedicated lane for bike riders and enough walking space for pedestrians. ¬†I tried to find it on Google to show ya’ll but I couldn’t ūüė¶ ¬†But, it lead me to this post. ¬†I absolutely LOVE dedicated/buffered bike lanes, one-way cycle tracks, two-way cycle tracks… ¬†you name it – I love them.

I ride all year. ¬†I donated my car and chose to be a car free woman in Columbus. ¬†People think that I’m one of those ‘no fear’ bicycle rider when that’s totally not true. ¬†Sometimes, I hate riding on the roads especially speeding wastelands like Broad, 3rd, 4th, and High st.- south of Livingston Ave.

People bitch about bike lanes and dedicated this and that. ¬†Well, the reality is is that the majority of the people who ARE interested in riding will not UNTIL there is decent infrastructure like cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes. ¬†When I commute to the West Side, my whole body feels a sense of relief once I hit those bike lanes. ¬†Cars have their dance space and I have mine. ¬†I have yet to have a car zoom passed me, cut me off, swear at me, etc. when I’m in those bike lanes and I can ride at MY speed not at the feeling of obligation to go as fast as I can so that I don’t hold up traffic too badly.

People bitch about the cleanliness of buffered bike lanes, cycle tracks saying that everything gets dumped and left in our lanes… well, there’s definite truth to that. ¬†I’ve found myself calling/submitting 311 requests to clean the bike lanes on Broad on a few occasions but that’s what you do. ¬†You take the time to report the issue. ¬†If cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes DO come into downtown Columbus, sooner than later I’d like to confidently say that maintenance would be a priority. ¬†And if you feel it slipping, stop being a lazy, complaining ass and submit the 311 request yourself.

That’s my five cents for today. ¬†I added a few buffered bike lanes, cycle tracks for folks who may not have a clear vision of what they are, below:

Keep riding… IN THE ROADS ūüôā

V St. Cycle Track in good ol’ D.C.

Ninth Ave in NYC.  How could you NOT like this view?  This ease.

Montreal.  Bike riders enjoying their safe space

Zebra painted intersection for a cycle track.  The paint helps with visibility and the sharrows help the bike riders maintain their path

Bogota cycle track.  You see, build it and people WILL use it

This is a snap shot of the video taken of me during my commute home – down 3rd. ¬†Nice and disgusting, eh? ¬†Rows of single occupant drivers in isolation around their 2000 steel box. ¬†Then there’s me.

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Yesterday was our 32nd Festivus Ride. ¬†Not really, but it was pretty awesome. ¬†We had folks meet us at Goodale Park where about 80 of us weaved the detours and construction of downtown Columbus and dammit, we looked good! ¬†Our bikes were dressed to impress. ¬†We had the tandem keg bike fit with our Festivus Pole guiding our way to our destination of Hal n Als where takers tested their ‘Feats of Strength.’ ¬†It was cold and brisk but the Huffy Toss was a sight to see. ¬†The fabulously, festive and decorated bicycles were lit up with lights, faux tinsel, santa heads and holly. ¬†The ugly sweaters were…. ¬†well, ugly as hell. ¬†And lastly, gals and guys tested their mind and upper arm strength when holding out filled pitchers of water. ¬†This test of strength was to see how long a person could hold the filled pitcher of water the longest and without bending their arms. ¬†There were some determined participants! ¬†The grievance board was filled by the end of the night, Frank Costanza stayed busy being photo’d and Jim Ganahl’s head was sadly dismembered from his body during the Huffy Toss Competition. ¬†I’d say, it was a Festivus Success! ¬†Enjoy the photos:

 

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