Making Room for People Rather Than Cars
We talk a lot on this blog about the way that government policy can help to create livable streets. But we don't often discuss the role that individual property owners can play when they're inspired to create a more pedestrian-friendly space.
It seems that recent development and new emphasis on the pedestrian landscape has encouraged a property owner in Brickell to replace a small surface (parking) lot in front of a building with more pedestrian-oriented and occupiable urban space fronting the sidewalk instead. Over the last couple of months, workers have been busy transforming the old parking spaces into an elevated outdoor seating space for what I presume will be a restaurant (or expansion of the existing restaurant next door).
In essence, the integration of the building within the urban fabric has been reconfigured to make it more responsive to pedestrians and more fitting with its surroundings. Prior to these changes, the building’s parking layout served as a physical and visual barrier between the pedestrian and the building. Much in the same way that buildings are setback behind inhospitable and unwalkable parking in the suburbs -- pedestrians walking the streets were not greeted by a building facade or window but rather by a long row of car exhausts and vehicle bumpers that contribute nothing to the urban atmosphere.
Luckily, the transformation of the space will change this unfavorable dynamic and create a more lively and active environment on the streets.
It's part of a process that the post's author, Adam Mizrahi, likes to call "automobile attrition." And it's an intriguing example of how, when a neighborhood achieves some livable streets momentum, the dead space created by cars and parking becomes more apparent.
More from around the network: Newton Streets and Sidewalks talks about how more roads don't ease congestion; Urban Milwaukee has a personal story about how senior citizens can get shut out of walkable neighborhoods; and The Infrastructurist looks at why Hawaii got complete streets legislation and Missouri didn't.