October is Community Planning Month hosted by the American Planning Assocation. Planning is more important than ever as communities continue to navigate the disruptive changes brought about by the pandemic. From economic development and transportation planning to reinventing what our communities look like post-COVID-19, this October share how planning and planners are leading the way forward for all in your community.
One of the City's most successful placemaking and COVID-19 recovery initiatives during the pandemic has been the conversion of the 100-block of King Street into a pedestrian-only plaza. This plaza is the first of its kind in Alexandria, features in-street dining options, and has been incredibly popular with residents. A recent survy of 2,700 residents found that 89 percent of respondents had a positive experience with the pedestrian zone, and a strong majoirity of residents and businesss want to see the program continue.
Additionally, the City is planning to launch a Neighborhood Slow Zone pilot initiative, which will provide traffic calming and gateway treatments for neighborhoods experiencing challenges with vehicle volumes and speeds. The initiative is part of the City’s broader Vision Zero effort to eliminate fatal and severe injury crashes.
To help provide Calgarians with the space needed to social distance and be able to walk, run, skateboard and cycle, The City of Calgary has implemented an Adaptive Roadways Program (ARP) in 2020. Under the program, road lanes are closed to motor vehicle traffic so they can be used by people who are walking, running, cycling, and rollerblading.
Over the course of the program, 14 km of adaptive roadways were installed at 20 unique locations. Calgary currently has 12 km of Cycle Track. thus, the Adaptive Roadway program has doubled the amount of separated on street active modes space in Calgary in 2020 and 2021.
With restrictions easing, and traffic flow returning to normal levels, The City analyzed what adaptive roadways had high use and are sustainable long term. Then, installed permanent infrastructure at four locations. This has added 3 km of new active modes infrastructure to the transportation network.
The goals of The City of Calgary’s Main Streets Program are to attract growth and investment in communities by using community planning best practices to redesign both popular and emerging streets that are cultural, social and economic focal points in the city. Main Streets are resilient, adaptable and attractive places that celebrate community character and create sustainable and vibrant communities that encourage diversity.
With that in mind, The City of Calgary is in the process of transforming West 17 Avenue S.W. and 37 Street S.W. into areas where people want to live, work and play through re-development and significant infrastructure upgrades.
Using the Main Streets Master Plan, the project team is enhancing pedestrian safety and comfort, improving mobility options, increasing green amenities, providing additional street furniture, improving connections to parks and amenities throughout the community, and advancing community destinations that will support local businesses.
By undertaking construction with a coordinated approach, The City of Calgary is renewing ageing infrastructure and transforming these streets to have a positive impact on the communities and citizens in the area.
The City of Carmel transformed Range Line Road from a 5-lane roadway to a pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined, multimodal roundabout corridor with protected bicycle and pedestrian pathways. A landscaped center median along the corridor eliminates left-hand turns. The corridor’s multimodal transportation options were designed to provide higher priority to pedestrian and bicycle traffic by implementing wide multi-use paths, a street-level separated cycle track, and raised crosswalks at roundabout intersections and key midblock crossing locations.
The raised crosswalks increase safety for pedestrians by physically reducing the speeds of vehicles at major pedestrian crossing areas. Higher priority for pedestrians and bicycles promotes walkability and bikeability, which contributes to an active, healthy lifestyle providing residents with reasonable alternatives to driving.
Like many places, Stamford’s restaurant industry faced significant challenges with the on-set of COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns. In response, the City of Stamford and the Stamford Downtown Special Services District (DSSD) quickly launched the Streateries program offering extended outdoor dining on the streets and sidewalks in Downtown Stamford. In 2020, this project transformed over 130 parking spaces into places for people to dine and undoubtedly saved Stamford’s restaurants. In 2021, this project was continued and upgraded to offer improved seating options and added landscaping. The City and DSSD began to look at approaches to further cement this program by permanently widening sidewalks and eliminating parking. The Transportation Department is currently in design to rebuild Summer Street to eliminate parking and widen the sidewalks by 8’ on either side to transform the outdoor dining landscape. This project shows how Stamford responded to COVID, adapted, and is planning for the future.
City of Costa Mesa, California was able to collect community input during the pandemic for its citywide Pedestrian Master Plan. A series of walk audits at six locations were conducted both in-person and virtually in early 2021. Community members had the option of joining a traditional in-person walk audit or participating virtually. The socially distanced in-person walk audits, led by City staff and KOA consultant team, had 81 attendees.
Other attendees could participate on the same walk audit tour routes or additional routes on their own time using an on-line interactive tool. A total of 484 comments associated with walk audits were collected through on-line GIS tools, in-person meetings, and other social media. These comments were considered during development of the policies and recommendations for the Pedestrian Master Plan. Public engagement for this project was spotlighted by the news media, including the Los Angeles Times.
Shared Streets and Mobility Lanes are one way we can help everyone stay safe and comply with Alberta Health Services physical distancing guidelines. This work was initiated in Spring 2020, as we adapted to the COVID pandemic. Shared Streets are open for people to use to bike, walk, or other active modes. Since all modes are using the same space with a Shared Street, the speed limit is reduced to 20 km/h.
Mobility Lanes open the use of a vehicle lane for people to use for physical activity by closing the lane to vehicle traffic and reducing speed limit to 40 km/h. The locations for 2021 were selected based on population density, pedestrian activity, type and design of the road, safety as well as feedback and data from the 2020 implementation. These temporary installations will be maintained until late Fall 2021.
COVID-19 disproportionately impacted people in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which is home to San Francisco’s most underserved communities. In collaboration with the Tenderloin Community Benefit District and Livable City, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Play Streets program created space for families and children to play. Play Streets partners with community organizations in the most underserved neighborhoods in terms of open space and recreational opportunities, which also correlates closely with San Francisco’s largest minority communities.
In fall 2020, a weekly closure of Turk Street between Leavenworth and Jones streets provided temporary, car-free open space for children, seniors, and neighbors to enjoy every Saturday. Play Streets created places for children to play, areas for COVID-19 testing, and recreational space for neighbors. In spring 2021, the Turk Play Streets evolved into Safe Passage Park, a block-long parklet and activation space that offers community programming and collaboration.
The Greenwich Avenue and Elm Street Intersection Improvement Project exemplifies how strategic planning can make a community more equitable and resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. Traffic on Greenwich Avenue – the Town’s shopping and dining destination – increased during pandemic due to the public working from home and not traveling. To ensure Greenwich Avenue remains a safe and desirable place for the public, Department of Public works implemented slow streets design to the Greenwich Avenue and Elm Street intersection. Curb extensions were installed to reduce the crossing time and distance for pedestrians by up to 40 percent and sidewalks were widened into the paved roadway to slow down motorists. The roadway was raised to improve visibility between pedestrians and motorists, and the speed of vehicles. To enhance the streetscape’s appearance, green-space increased from 340 square feet to 1,860 square feet. Future projects on Greenwich Avenue include designated areas for outdoor dining.