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Posts Tagged ‘neighborhoods’

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:

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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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Yesterday, while waiting at a bus stop in German Village, I, as I usually do, watched interactions between cars and pedestrians.  At this four-way stop, I observed how unsafe and how NON-functional this intersection is for pedestrians.

Design should always be about US Рthe end user.  How we use it, it is comfortable, is it uncomfortable, is it functional for everyone.

We’ve given complete control and power over to autos. ¬†Even as pedestrians, when we have the lit ‘walk’ sign and someone is about to cross in a crosswalk and a car approaches- getting ready to potentially turn right, they inch their way into the crosswalk. The pedestrian hesitates and then once they see the car stop (in the crosswalk) the pedestrians gives the ‘thank you for allowing me to cross’ gesture. ¬†They should never have to ‘thank’ the driver for allowing them to cross during a lit ‘walk’ as this time is deemed PEDESTRIAN CROSSING. ¬†But, we’ve allowed this and we need to start taking it back.

I watch so many pedestrians be inconvenienced while crossing in a designated crosswalk b/c a driver has stopped beyond the ‘stop bar’ and into the crosswalk, or, the street has been designed for cars to excessively speed. ¬†Pedestrians stay silent and remain inconvenienced. ¬†There’s such an overwhelming dominance of letting cars overpower our streets and our safe places to cross that I’ve even been honked at, while crossing in a crosswalk. ¬†I’m sure someone reading has as well.

The three photos below show poor and unsafe design for pedestrians at a four-way stop in German Village. ¬†The first image. ¬†Take note of where the stop sign has been placed, the stop bar for where cars are ‘suppose’ to stop and the crossing ramp. ¬†The stop bar should be IN FRONT of the stop sign a few feet so that FIRST, the car stops and yields to pedestrians and second, the pedestrian has safe space to cross the street. ¬†This is unsafe and poorly designed. ¬†It also creates confusion on the pedestrian end. ¬†The pedestrian waiting to cross should always have the right-of-way. ¬†This image gives the perception that since the stop bar is ahead of the pedestrian ramp that the car has the right-of-way. ¬†Wrong. ¬†And as you can see with the car stopped here, it’s completely overtaken the pedestrian crossing space.

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Image two: ¬†This is the stop sign looking west from that four-way stop. ¬†Notice the stop bar that’s INSIDE the space where pedestrians cross. ¬†This is an easy collision between a driver and pedestrian. ¬†I’m sure the stop sign is placed where it currently is due to the lack of sight from the right side however, all cars must stop here. ¬†The stop sign and the stop bar can be placed back a few feet to create safe crossing for the pedestrians.

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This third image is just plain lazy and dangerous.

Instead of the stop sign having its own pole, it’s slapped on the utility pole. ¬†Look at the placement of the stop bar. ¬†The utility pole is encroaching the ramp of where pedestrians are diverted to cross. ¬†I cross this portion of the four-way stop, ALL the time and I’m angered by it. ¬†It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. ¬†Again, this kind of poor design is not functional for strollers, people walking their dogs, etc. ¬†This. ¬†Is. Dangerous. ¬†It also puts forth the perception that cars are first, pedestrians are second. ¬†Wrong.

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This is just one four-way stop intersection. ¬†I’m bringing this to light to show that design must be usable, SAFE, and functional for ALL users of the road. ¬†Think about other places in your neighborhood that have been designed based up creating comfort FIRST for the driver and THEN for the human being.

Fish swim. ¬†Birds fly. ¬†People walk. ¬†We are ALL pedestrians before we are drivers. ¬†We MUST be more vocal when it comes to safe spaces to walk and cross. ¬†The images below are just a few images of how many cars stop INSIDE crosswalk, potentially creating unsafe and dangerous space, in the space that’s ‘suppose’ to be safe for us to cross. ¬†This is a BIG reason why so many ppl cross at mid-block (its safer).

Next time you’re crossing at a crosswalk, take note of where cars are stopping, and if they are in YOUR pedestrian ‘safe’ space, educate them! ¬†Next time you’re driving, I hope you properly stop and provide safe distance for pedestrians to cross. ¬†And take a look at where other cars are stopping.

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The pedestrian is IN THE ROAD crossing!

 

 

 

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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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