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Posts from the "Project for Public Spaces" Category

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Road Diets Are Changing American Cities for the Better

If it can work on Edgewater Drive in Orlando, it can work anywhere.

Orlando's Edgewater Drive after a road diet: safer and more active. Image: Project for Public Spaces

This road diet — or “street rightsizing” — removed one traffic lane on a four lane road through 1.5 miles of the city’s College Park neighborhood. Since then, traffic collisions are down 34 percent. Pedestrian activity increased 23 percent and cycling rose 30 percent.

Virtually none of the problems opponents predicted have materialized. Immediate property values have held steady with regional trends. Nearby streets haven’t seen a major increase in traffic. And because the project was a simple striping, the road diet cost the city only an additional $50,000 over a basic resurfacing.

So why doesn’t every city in America get busy “rightsizing”? A new guide from Project for Public Spaces seeks to make that possible. PPS’s Rightsizing Streets Guide highlights case studies and best practices from Philadelphia, Seattle, Tampa, Poughkeepsie, and elsewhere to show jurisdictions how they, too, can right-size their streets.

Philadelphia took a unique approach. “The Porch” project outside 30th Street Station removed only parking and replaced it with a wide sidewalk, seating, and public gathering space. This new destination, featured last year on Streetfilms, seats 250 people and is home to regular events like yoga and farmer’s markets, and it is a favorite spot for West Philadelphia workers to eat lunch on nice days.

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Streetfilms: Interview With the Transportation Engineer

In his storied career at New Jersey DOT, Gary Toth played an indispensable role changing the culture of the agency, promoting a place-based ethic instead of the auto-centric transportation planning dogma. Today Toth heads transportation initiatives at Project for Public Spaces, where he has written "A Citizen's Guide to Better Streets." The book, which will be published by AARP, serves as a how-to for working constructively with your local transportation and planning agencies. (It is not yet available for purchase.)

Streetsblog Editor-in-Chief Aaron Naparstek sat down with Toth last week for this interview. Anyone interested in how the American landscape has become so dominated by cars should watch. Toth's insights about the compound effects of transportation and land use policies are invaluable.

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Historic Town Chooses to “Retain Its Charm” By Enabling Sprawl

bordentown.jpgOn Friday, Streetsblog looked at how northern Virginia can't get enough road widening. As a follow-up, Gary Toth of Project for Public Spaces directed us to another example of how smart growth faces hurdles in the places that need it most -- in this case, the Trenton suburb of Bordentown, New Jersey (right: the main drag).

Residents in the village of 4,000 recently voiced their opposition to a proposal that would encourage mixed-use and infill development, reports the Burlington County Times:

The ordinance would allow for the addition of up to 100 dwellings downtown. It would allow developers to put apartments or condominiums above storefronts and would increase the allowable height for buildings. Currently, developers have to obtain variances to do such things.

The rejection of the zoning changes was stoked by fears that the town's historic character would be threatened, among other things:

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Indianapolis Paves the Way for Bikes and Pedestrians


Construction is underway on what may be the nation's most advanced urban greenway system.

Indianapolis, Indiana is making what could be the boldest step of any North American city towards supporting bicyclists and pedestrians. Known as an extremely auto-oriented city, most closely associated with the Indianapolis 500, this is one of the last cities we would have expected to see systematically removing vehicle lanes and replacing them with bicycle and pedestrian space.

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a bold vision for about 8 miles of separated greenway that is currently being built through the downtown core of Indianapolis. Led by the Central Indiana Community Foundation in partnership with the city, the project is a visionary response to skyrocketing obesity and the opportunity to leverage and better serve downtown infrastructure investments.


Downtown Indianapolis before the Cultural Trail.


Downtown Indianapolis after the Cultural Trail.

More than just a separated bike path, the Cultural Trail is an economic development tool that will help support and connect the city's many cultural and civic destinations. It will help revitalize streets by bringing more people downtown and increasing the circulation and length of time that people spend in the central city. As it becomes part of the city, it will also enhance the public presence of existing destinations and help create many new destinations throughout the downtown.

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Andy Wiley-Schwartz Starts at DOT on Monday

aschwartz.jpgDepartment of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan continues to assemble an impressive management team.

Following in the footsteps of Bruce Schaller and Jon Orcutt, Project for Public Spaces vice president and transportation program director Andy Wiley-Schwartz is heading over to 40 Worth Street where he will be reporting to Deputy Commissioner Schaller at DOT's new Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. There they will be working to implement the transportation and public space objectives set out in Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC.

Wiley-Schwartz starts at DOT on Monday. While there has been no official announcement of his hiring or his title, word has it Wiley-Schwartz will be working on new public space initiatives, which seems like a natural fit, given his experience at PPS. With DOT's recent focus on reclaiming under-utilized bits and pieces of street space as public plazas and with tremendous grassroots energy in places like Hell's Kitchen, SoHo, Gansevoort, Grand Army Plaza, Williamsburg and even the occasional, random on-street parking spot -- it seems like "public space initiatives" could be a pretty exciting job description at DOT right now.

Wiley-Schwartz has been a contributor here at Streetsblog. At PPS he specialized in working with Departments of Transportation and community groups all across the U.S. on downtown street enhancement, traffic calming and bicycle and pedestrian projects. He is a national lead in the Context Sensitive Solutions movement, an articulate advocate and just a really pleasant guy to work with. Here is an excerpt from his PPS bio:

He specializes in helping communities rebuild their neighborhoods and cities by leveraging transportation funding into the development of public spaces, including streets and other transportation facilities, in part by focusing on strategic partnerships and programming.

Andy's current projects include PPS's New Jersey Smart Choices program: an outreach, education and training program to help municipalities plan and make sustainable land use decisions in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Transportation. He is also working with the Times Square Alliance in New York City, the City of Elmira, NY to revitalize the area under and around a railroad viaduct downtown, and advising the City of Indianapolis on their plan to build a "Cultural Trail" through their central business district.

And, no, this is not an April Fool's prank. It's June, people.