Let’s Close Some Streets To Cars And Allow More Space For People

There’s less traffic everywhere in the world right now. More people are staying close to home, and many are walking and riding bikes. At the same time drivers are speeding more. Maybe it’s an increased sense of driver entitlement with more open roads, or the knowledge that police are less likely to engage with speeders, and in some cities even refusing to respond to calls for non-injury crashes, all making streets even more dangerous.

As always, but especially now we need to be more aware of the most vulnerable moving about in our cities: people walking, biking, and using other forms of micro-transit.  To maintain 6′ distance during the viral outbreak, people walking must move off too-narrow sidewalks into the street. Those who ride bikes must also maintain 6′ distance.  But bike riders fearful of speeding and distracted drivers may feel safer on sidewalks, even if there are bike lanes. Paint doesn’t protect.

The problem isn’t walkers or people on bikes. It’s #toomanycars, and #slowthecars.

Let’s consider closing some Asbury Park streets to automotive traffic to allow more space for people.  If we envision the successful street closures during the Sea. Hear. Now Festival, we can see that Ocean Avenue could  be closed to cars, at least temporarily while the boardwalk is closed (and probably soon the beach).  Cookman Avenue would make a great walking plaza, especially now while businesses are mostly closed, and maybe it could remain permanently a place for people.  It’s becoming evident all over the world that cities are more vibrant where there are fewer cars. This would be a great time to try it out.

How to Open Streets Right During Social Distancing

“The first place we should start, the advocates we spoke to argued, is with closing off as many streets as possible that run through our parks to motor vehicles — not just a handful of them, as may cities are doing now. And it’d be even better to close off roads adjacent to parks, too: Mike Lydon and Tony Garcia, tactical urbanism superstars and co-principals of Street Plans, offered particular applause to Minneapolis’ decision to allow limited road closures near its river front.

Next stop: the cul-de-sacs. Streets that are already pretty quiet have absolutely no reason to allow non-resident traffic right now, when the risk of killing new crowds of of walker vastly outweighs the risk of holding up a traffic pattern that has largely come to a standstill. And that goes for through-streets that don’t connect major essential services, too.

Third stop: those small, walkable shopping districts where all the businesses are closed anyway. Jason Roberts of Better Block thinks it’s particularly important to give residents safe, contactless access to window shopping, street vendors, and even shuttered restaurants, which can be converted into open-air markets through Better Block’s free downloadable shelf plans.”

Read all about it:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/04/08/how-to-open-streets-right-during-social-distancing/

The Auto Industry Has Co-Opted Our Language

The automotive industry has co-opted our language and we’re just becoming aware of the calculated plan. We’re people driving vehicles, and we’re also people riding bikes, and walking – and yes, riding scooters too. But guess who gets the benefit of language that absolves them of responsibility in injuries and fatalities? It’s NOT an accident.

We don’t say “plane accident.” We shouldn’t say “car accident” either.

In response to the emerging public backlash against cars (which were, at the time, largely owned and driven by the wealthy), automakers and other industry groups pushed for a new set of laws that kept pedestrians off the streets, except at crosswalks.

To get people to follow these laws, they tried to shape news coverage of crashes. The National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, an industry group, established a free wire service for newspapers: Reporters could send in the basic details of a traffic collision, and would get in return a complete article to print the next day. These articles, printed widely, shifted the blame for crashes to pedestrians — and almost always used the word “accident.”

Read how we’ve been brainwashed:

https://www.vox.com/2015/7/20/8995151/crash-not-accident

Video: Amsterdam children fighting cars in 1972

Amsterdam wasn’t always bicycling heaven. Vehicles had been taking over city streets there just as they have been taking over streets in the US, but they did something about it…

This 1972 documentary video tells the story of a how the children in a neighborhood in Amsterdam fought for safe streets and a place to play with what we now call “tactical urbanism”.The area had become congested by vehicles. People, especially children were endangered. Does this 1972 neighborhood look like any American cities we are familiar with today?  Some US cities are taking steps to change from “car culture” , into cities for people of all ages , but not enough, and not fast enough. 40,000 people are killed in motor vehicle related crashes every year in the US!

The documentary video was discovered recently, and shortened to about 10 minutes with subtitles. Watch and share.

Image from the documentary from 1972. The streets are dominated by cars and there is not a tree in sight.

“This would be a perfect area for a trial with a maximum speed of 30km/h” (18mph) explains a traffic expert of the city of Amsterdam to a child in a film that was broadcast on Dutch national TV almost 42 years ago.

“The TV documentary was made for a progressive broadcasting corporation and shows the Amsterdam neighbourhood “De Pijp” which was about 100 years old at the time. The homes were run down and small. The streets were never built, nor fit for all the cars brought in by the 40,000 people living in the small area and its many visitors. This led to an overpopulated neighbourhood with a lot of dirt and filth and especially the children suffered. The documentary is one of a series and this particular episode looks at the situation from a child’s perspective.”

The same street as seen in Google Streetview is very different. The carriage way was narrowed. The homes renovated and the trees and bicycles make the area a lot friendlier.

More from:

Bicycle Dutch

 

And read about How Children Demanding Play Streets Changed Amsterdam

 

Parking Problems Everywhere

The issues of parking in Australia are the same as those in the US. Comforting to know that we’re not alone struggling with this, and in every city with the same problem, it all comes down to #toomanycars. There’s tension between the auto industry desperately trying to keep cars on the roads, engineers who persist in designing roads for cars, and the oil and gas industries vs environmentalists who have been letting us know that emissions are killing the planet, and urban planners who realize that streets should be designed as places for people and that #slowthecars will save thousands of lives each year. Cities designed with alternative transportation options are more livable – healthier and safer.

OF ALL THE PROBLEMS OUR CITIES NEED TO FIX, LACK OF CAR PARKING ISN’T ONE OF THEM

“…cars dominate our cities, supported by decades of unbalanced planning decisions favouring space for cars over other land uses or forms of transport. “

Car parking is such a pervasive feature of our cities that we have become blind to how much space it takes up. 

“Finally, providing more housing options without rigidly attached parking spaces will encourage people who don’t actually need to drive to choose to drive less or switch to other forms of transport.”

Read more…

https://theconversation.com/of-all-the-problems-our-cities-need-to-fix-lack-of-car-parking-isnt-one-of-them-116179

Is Asbury Park A Strong Town? Here’s The Test

Think of the reasons that you love Asbury Park. Four cities were in the semi-final round of The Strongest Town. (Voting is now closed, and results are in as of April 6. Stay tuned.). Would Asbury Park someday be able to see our name on this list?  Could we win? Take a look at the The Strong Towns Strength Test.  Click on the underlined questions for details.  How do you think we would score? Asbury Park might only score a 1 out of 10 right now – We have work to do, but with your support of APCSC advocacy we are moving in the right direction!

Preview the upcoming New book by Charles Marhon, Jr., Strong Towns.: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity.

Strong Towns Strength Test

  by Charles Marohn

We understand that cities are complex, adaptable systems that defy easy or precise measurement, so we asked ourselves: are there simple observations we use to signal that a city is either a strong town or on its way to becoming one? If you went to a place and had a little bit of time, could you scratch the surface and get a sense of how strong and resilient it was?

Here are ten simple questions we call the Strong Towns Strength Test. A Strong Town should be able to answer “yes” to each of these questions. (Click on the underlined questions to read a step-by-step guide for answering that question.)

  1. Take a photo of your main street at midday. Does the picture show more people than cars?

Read more…

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2014/11/15/strong-towns-strength-test

Streets At The Human Scale

A common complaint from drivers about Asbury Park’s Main Street reconfiguration has been the fear that they won’t be able to get through the city as quickly as possible. Of course we know that traffic calming will actually allow traffic to move more smoothly. But even more, it will become a REAL Main Street. A place for people, not just a way to get through the city.  Watch the short video for inspiration!

THE KEY TO SAFE STREETS: FIVE CITIES HUMANIZING STREET DESIGN

If we begin to look at streets as places, rather than through-ways, we see them as the deeply human spaces that they are. Places of commerce, work, recreation, and play, streets are one of the most fundamental public spaces with which we interact on a day-to-day basis. Safe streets for walking must be considered as a basic human right, given that, for many, walking is one of the first skills acquired in childhood, and one of the last things let go of in old age.

Watch video and read more…

https://www.pps.org/article/humanize-street-design-for-road-safety