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Moving Cyclovia Forward

Tactical urbanism should model something that we think we can make permanent, in order to temporarily show how great it is. (From Park(ing) Day Providence).

Today the blog Streets.MN asks some questions about "Open Streets" that I've asked before about Providence's Cyclovias: 

Open Streets closes down auto-oriented streets in Minneapolis and St. Paul along major corridors and opens them up to pedestrians, cyclists, strollers and skaters. The transformation is astonishingly beautiful. But, when the streets turn back into uninhabitable congested roadway the following day I’m left asking myself “What’s the point?”
Herein lies a problem with tactical urbanism and CiclovĂ­a-styled events. They must go beyond the event and aim for a greater good. Open Streets must be a tactic in a broader strategy, and merely raising awareness may not be enough to accomplish their mission of enhancing healthy living, local business, sustainable transportation and civic pride.

I love Cyclovia, but like Streets.MN, I think it only goes so far. In my case, I feel that the problem is that Cyclovia models something that people don't think is realistic as a permanent change. Closing just the parking lanes of a street for a day could model a potential cycletrack. Putting cones in place to narrow vehicle lanes could show how a road diet might work. What does Cyclovia model? For most people, it models a thing that can't happen in an everyday way (the exception to this in Providence would be if we shut down a street like Thayer, which I think is ripe for permanent pedestrianization).

I hope the city will consider using 2014's Cyclovias to model changes to our streets that could become permanent. Maybe it's time to experiment with those West Side Westminster cycletracks?


1 comment:

  1. We lived in Providence (briefly) in the early 80s, when they had pedestrianized Westminster Street at the "Banking District." By the time we returned in 2008, it had been repaved for traffic. Finding and fixing the cause of that redesign might explain unwillingness to pedestrianize Thayer Street, or find a way to make it feasible.