I'm kind of late to the boat on this one, but I saw this article from earlier this year on City Walk, and this passage caught me:
That’s why improving the Friendship-Clifford Bridge is so important to City Walk partners and the first thing Baudouin said the Providence Foundation will advocate for.
In the short term, the City Walk report calls for small-scale measures to make the bridge more welcoming for pedestrians, such as colorful, patterned surface concrete, varied and creative lighting and large trees planted at the thresholds.
In the longer term and if resources become available, the plan calls for a new dedicated pedestrian- and bicycle-only bridge parallel to the existing one.
I support the City Walk proposal, but I'd just like to tweak it a tiny bit. It seems to me that there's no reason to build a separate bridge. The bridge we have already should be the pedestrian and bike bridge. The assumption that underlies needing to build a new bridge is that car traffic can't handle having some lanes taken away, but the article itself states that the bridge is seldom used (Google Streetview finds it unadorned by cars).
The proposal should be the reverse: first we will have a complete bike and pedestrian bridge, and only then (if needed) will we add another bridge for cars.
It could be like the bridge at the tail end of this Streetfilms video.
It would mean:
- We could start now with advanced bike infrastructure like a car-free space, instead of just making aesthetic changes to the bridge which will help less.
- We could close the bridge using planters, which would cost next to nothing, and reopen the bridge if we decided we didn't like it, at little cost.
- We could also try a middle ground, which would be to close just one lane of the bridge to cars using planters, creating a protected bike lane.
I must say that I tend to think biking comes first, not walking. I know that's heresy--and it's not because I like bikes more, because I do walk a lot of places too. But I think focusing on bike connections over the bridge is more realistic, because aesthetic or social safety issues that are relatively minor and fleeting on a bike (like unpleasant light or gaps in buildings) are deal-breaking problems as a pedestrian. Get people to bike over this bridge first, and then if we have success, let's close the second lane and pretty-it-up for pedestrian traffic.
Closing this bridge is one of the many ideas Rachel and I tried to sell to VHB during the bike plan which never saw the light of day. But we can make it happen now, because the Elorza admin. has indicated that it's serious about taking these issues to the mat. Let's push for a quicker implementation of a bike-ped bridge.