Redesigning Coxe Avenue

Over the course of 4 days, Street Plans led the transformation of a .3-mile stretch of Coxe Avenue in Asheville, NC. The project team comprised of volunteers from Asheville on Bikes, the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and the AARP.

The team created 6 new crosswalks, a .3-mile parking and barrier-protected multi-use path, and installed a 6,000 sq. ft. mural created by Sound Mind Creative to test pedestrian and bicycle safety solutions on the corridor. These changes focused on making public spaces more accesible, safe, and functional for al users. While this pilot project may last up to a year, it will inform the city’s ultimate redesign of Coxe Avenue in the short-term.

Click HERE for an article on the project installation!

Check out a few photos of the final result below:

 

Tactical Urbanism in Honolulu

Street Plans has teamed up with the City of Honolulu to implement a two-phase tactical urbanism project starting in 2019. The first phase will consist of a pilot project that will test an existing design while involving community members and City partners. The second phase will focus on developing a quick-build program for the City to test and implement other community-led projects to make communities safer and more walkable.

Click HERE for more information about this upcoming project!

The Burlington Quick-Build Program is Underway!

The implementation of the PlanBTV Walk/Bike bicycle master plan and the quick build methodology program created by Street Plans for the City of Burlington is underway!

This comprehensive plan for active transport included recommendations for streetscapes that accommodate walkers and cyclists and that will ultimately create demand for better (and greener) public transit. These measures are designed to encourage safer, more convenient and more predictable transit infrastructure for folks who ply all modes of transportation, from semi-trucks to electric scooters.

Click HERE to see an article about the new streetscape changes in Burlington!

Jubilee Plaza

Street Plans is working with Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc. and Hartford’s Capital Region Council of Governments to advance the implementation of Complete Streets by writing a regional guide for embedding a Tactical Urbanism approach to project delivery. On October 24th and 25th Street Plans collaborated with the City of New Britain, Connecticut to get a working model on the ground. The demonstration project consisted of a community art mural on a portion of Jubilee Street with the goal of providing more public space in the East Side neighborhood.

Click HERE and HERE to see some articles about Jubilee Plaza!

Let’s Ride JC

On October 13, the City of Jersey City and Street Plans tested a temporary .4-mile protected bikeway as part of the engagement process for the Let’s Ride JC Bicycle Master Plan. The lane was designed to be 75% wider than other lanes in Jersey City to welcome people using bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and rollerblades. This effort was led by Street Plans with support from Arterial, Equitable Cities, Streetfilms, and many community groups and city departments who desire safer streets.

Earlier in the year, an analysis of the current state of Jersey City’s bicycle network was made, noting where existing infrastructure could be improved and identifying possible corridors for new infrastructure. A series of public workshops were then held where the community was able to provided input and share ideas for the final plan. One of these ideas was tested along 6 blocks on Bergen Avenue on during JCAST 2018, the city’s three-day, citywide arts festival. Following the demonstration project, the project team will develop a comprehensive, actionable bike master plan and design guidelines for new and improved bicycle infrastructure citywide.

Click HERE to view the Streetfilms video!

Avenue 3 Miami Quick-Build Activation

On Wednesday, October 17th, Street Plans started installing temporary painted curb extensions on NE 3rd Avenue in Downtown Miami as part of a multi-day activation called Taste of Avenue 3. This activation is the first of many in support of a long-term initiative called Avenue 3 Miami, catalyzed by Downtown resident Steve Dutton. Steve is fighting for a number of improvements to this corridor, including a new homeless initiative, better lighting, and parklets that will reallocate space in better support of pedestrians. 

From the 17th to the 18th, Street Plans had over 25 volunteers help paint the street, plant planters, and prepare two parklets created by Moonlighter Makerspace for installation. The demonstration was activated on Friday, the 19th with seating, shade, and games, encouraging passersby to engage and provide feedback. To culminate the activation, the project team put on a community dinner in the street on Saturday evening complete with small bites from the NE 3rd Avenue restaurants, music, and dancing. With 452 tickets sold, the evening event raised over $6,500 to support Avenue 3 Miami’s future initiatives. 

The event was attended by County Commissioner Eileen Higgins, and City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell joined volunteers in painting on Wednesday. 

Keep following the long-term project at avenue3miami.org, and at @avenue3miami, and check the @mdtquickbuild Instagram platforms for updates on the next project you can be involved in! The above video was filmed by our friends at Streetfilms.

Hands on Exchange

From Saturday, August 11th to Sunday, August 12th Street Plans, the University of Akron, and about 50 total volunteers installed a two-way protected bike lane on the north side of East Exchange Street between Arc Drive and Goodkirk Street. Funded by the Knight Foundation, Hands on Exchange tested new bikeway infrastructure on this portion of Exchange Street in anticipation of the City-led redesign of the street to take place in 2022.

The project kicked off in the Fall of 2017. Street Plans conducted two public workshops over the course of the design process to solicit ideas from the community, and worked alongside the City of Akron and METRO to carefully incorporate the bus routes along the corridor. After several meetings, four bus stops were either relocated or consolidated to make for more efficient traffic flow along Exchange Street, and the design of the bike lane at the bus stops was finalized. The City installed curb ramps at the bus stops to allow for people to safely cross the bike lane to board the bus– which no longer had to pull to the curb at each stop. The goal was to incorporate multiple transportation modes (driving, biking, walking, and transit) in such a way that each would be aware of the other, and inform the design of future projects.

About 9,000 sq. ft. were painted with green or tan traffic paint and about 380 flex stakes were placed along the .75-mile route to bring this project to life. Local businesses along the corridor sponsored free drinks, lunch, and snacks during the build days to all the volunteers that joined the project team.

To execute the project, Street Plans established four stations at the beginning intersection of each segment of the bike lane, and had volunteers work from west to east until each task for each station was completed. Eighty percent of the work was completed in the first day!

The project culminated in a bike party celebration on Friday, August 17th, attended by 100 community members and hosted by the University of Akron. The party had live music, food, and included a celebratory ride with attendees down the bike lane.

The project team hopes that this project not only further informs the City of Akron’s efforts to create multimodal streets, but that it also makes Exchange Street a safer place for all users.  

Check out some photos of the installation during the build days and of the final product below!

Tactical Urbanism in Santa Fe, Argentina

Earlier this year, Street Plans hosted a Tactical Urbanism workshop in Santa Fe, Argentina as part of our partnership with 100 Resilient Cities to provide member cities with resilience strategies through low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment. In Santa Fe, the workshop focused on engaging community members and leaders to come up with several demonstration project proposals for the recovery of Parque del Norte, a former sanitary landfill in the northern sector of the city. The goal was to add value to underutilized spaces within Parque del Norte by involving the community through short-term, scalable interventions.

The workshop was kicked off by a presentation on Tactical Urbanism and how its principles can be used to widen public engagement and test ideas, specifically in Parque del Norte. Nearly 40 participants, including the mayor of Santa Fe, business owners, cultural organization representatives, and other community members took part in this initiative. After a site visit, participants formed groups to brainstorm and propose ideas to transform Parque del Norte into an actively-programmed, neighborhood destination.

 

The proposed interventions included community programming, public art, furniture, lighting, and educational activities about resiliency, recycling, and botanical gardening. In addition, the community proposed to remove parking for the main entrance and create artistic crosswalks to make the park more accessible to pedestrians. The materials used and the community partners involved were also determined.

Photo of Parque del Norte’s main entry during the workshop site visit.

On June 5, World Environment Day, the Chief Resiliency Office gathered the community to plan the build-day for the interventions in Parque del Norte. The activities then took place over the weekend of June 29 as a way to celebrate the 1-year anniversary since the release of Santa Fe’s Resiliency strategy.

Check out a few photos of the final result below:

Reflections on 10 Years of the NYC Plaza Program

In 2007, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlanNYC made a bold commitment that all New Yorkers would live within a 10-minute walk of an open space. Rather than give that goal to the Parks Department as might seem obvious, the plan’s visionary crafters assigned it instead to the Department of Transportation, imagining that underutilized parts of the City’s street network could potentially be converted to public space. Charged with that task, NYC DOT’s ambitious Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, brought on Andy Wiley-Schwartz from the Project for Public Spaces to make the vision into a reality.

The resulting NYC Plaza Program, which celebrated its 10th Anniversary at an opening event for Corona Plaza in Queens this past Saturday, now boasts an impressive 30-acre portfolio with 74 locations citywide where streets have been repurposed into actively-programmed, partner-managed, neighborhood destinations. This a tremendous accomplishment for which Andy deserves hearty congratulations, as well as the program’s current director Emily Weidenhof. The NYC Plaza Program’s rapid growth was due in no small part to widely employing simple but transformative quick-build methods, first experimented with by NYC DOT in 2006-7 projects which pre-date the program’s official launch, including Willoughby Street in Brooklyn, 14th Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan, and Pearl Street in Brooklyn. Using the principles cataloged in Tactical Urbanism and now replicated throughout the world, NYC DOT was able to reclaim street space virtually overnight, allowing city officials and local partners to test design and programming concepts, and deliver instant safety and public life benefits without waiting for costly and time-consuming capital reconstruction (that would come years down the line).

Photo: Andy Wiley-Schwartz, NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and numerous others commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the NYC Plaza Program at Corona Plaza in Queens, NY.

But the lynchpin of the program’s success is its reliance on local nonprofit organizations to generate project locations via an application process, and then maintain the new open spaces once they are implemented. This unusual and pioneering process was crafted with the wisdom that the best public spaces have a design program which reflects and responds to the neighborhood character and culture, and are activated and stewarded by dedicated community stakeholders. As Public Space Operations Manager at NYC DOT from 2008 to 2013, I was responsible for developing and managing relationships with the nonprofit maintenance partners and am personally very grateful for their hard work and commitment to making each plaza successful.

It was a very tricky dynamic- to invite a community group to help us plan and build a public space, and then ask them to commit to physically maintaining it for the foreseeable future. New York City is dotted with past examples of projects where that relationship failed, chiefly because once the project was built, the maintenance partner was left with a large liability but very little support or ongoing benefit. So we developed a more sustainable model based on my own experiences at Bryant Park such that DOT plaza partners are granted limited opportunities to subsidize their obligations through fundraising, sponsorships, and concessions like kiosks and food markets.

Photo: Danza Azteca Chichimeca performs a ceremonial dance at the opening of Corona Plaza in Queens, NY

Ultimately the public-private partnership model we developed proved to be adequate, but only up to a point. Most of the Plaza Program’s early partners were fairly well-capitalized BIDs and LDCs in high-visibility locations, but achieving the goal of building a plaza in each of New York’s 59 community districts meant finding partners in areas where resources were scarcer and revenue-generating efforts less fruitful, and that proved far more difficult. To address this, NYC DOT partnered with the Horticultural Society of New York to launch the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership with a grant from the JM Kaplan Fund. NPP works with smaller plaza partners to help them take care of their public spaces by providing training, capacity-building, and subsidized cleaning and landscaping services as part of The Hort’s larger workforce development program with ACE.

One of the most challenging aspects of developing any partnership-based public realm initiative is tailoring the design program to meet the capacity of the maintenance entity, and then calibrating expectations for successful outcomes. In Times Square and other midtown plazas, it was about responding to overwhelming demand – addressing concerns about plaza wear and tear, pedestrian circulation, and commercial event saturation. At a place like New Lots Plaza at the end of the #3 train in Brooklyn, it was more basic- how are we going to get the space swept and have snow cleared? Who can put out and bring in tables and chairs every day? What plants will survive with limited attention in the shadows of an elevated train?

Photo: The NYC DOT Plaza Program now includes 74 locations covering 30 acres

Every plaza is different and every partner is different, and it was our job to find a formula that solved for the distinct needs of each individual place. In the case of Herald Square, millions of dollars is spent each year by 34th Street Partnership on a sanitation crew that cleans the entire 31-block district around-the-clock. In the case of New Lots Plaza, the head of the small local merchants association owned a pizza shop and agreed to have his porter sweep the plaza each morning. The further out we went from the central business districts, the more we had to cobble together creative operating plans, sometimes requiring bare bones services provided by the City, often involving in-kind or volunteer participation from area businesses and institutions, and in a number of key locations bolstered by the valiant support of Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

What is crucial is that no public space is designed to a standard which cannot be reasonably managed and maintained. And for that, there is no better tool than using temporary materials. The quick-build approach allowed DOT to test if a public space would actually work in a given location from many different perspectives – not just in terms of traffic flow, but was it embraced by the community and did the partner have the ability to take care of it? In many cases plaza designs had to change and even whole partner organizations had to change to make the project successful. But what we have now, what is embodied in the work I do today with Street Plans, is a roadmap for using temporary materials to foster and cultivate public realm improvements incrementally – from demonstration phase to pilot phase to interim phase to permanent build-out – making tweaks where necessary, and ensuring that the long-term large capital investment is both sound and sustainable.

Photo: The newly-opened, permanently-reconstructed Corona Plaza in the background with a sign in the foreground showing its original incarnation as a congested parking lot

Ed Janoff is Senior Director of Project Development at The Street Plans Collaborative

Street Plans to Host Public Workshop in Asheville to Plan Tactical Urbanism Project

Street Plans was hired by Asheville on Bikes, Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, and AARP to advise the community in the temporary redesign of Coxe Avenue utilizing tactical urbanism in Asheville, NC. 

Street Plans will lead a public workshop on June 21st to further inform the community and local stakeholders about tactical urbanism and to plan and propose the specific elements of the project. The project will use temporary materials to test a reconfiguration of Coxe Avenue, a main  thoroughfare through downtown Asheville, to better inform a more permanent redesign of the street in the future. The goal is to make the street safer for all users, especially pedestrians and bicyclists. 

Click HERE to read a full article about the upcoming workshop.