Category Archives: Corridor planning

Leaders’ shared vision inspires Center Line development plan

Center Line DDA

Photo by David Lewinski

The city of Center Line has revived its downtown development authority and refocused its tax increment financing (TIF) in a placemaking initiative to attract businesses that serve nearby workers and young people to its tidy blocks of affordable houses.

“The first challenge is getting the willpower and getting a champion,” said CWA’s Dave Scurto in this January 21 Metromode article. “Center Line has overcome this fantastically. Everybody’s working together with the same vision and message. The mayor and the council understand the business community.”

The article features the Center Line city manager/DDA director and the mayor and their plans for a façade improvement program, gateway signage, enhanced wayfinding, streetscape maintenance and online marketing.

Dave compared the initiative to the city of Riverview’s successful plan to acquire a faded shopping center and redevelop it into a medical complex.

Pedestrian-friendly streets and squares around the world

Streetview before and after-webEvery month we ask our staff for stories for the blog. Matt Lonnerstater and Chris Nordstrom simultaneously came up with this one: A website that uses Google Street View and Google Maps to show before and after views of streets and public spaces around the world that have been transformed to serve pedestrians instead of cars. Glance at the pictures at the top of the page for a jolt of inspiration or drive deep into the map and the conversation.

Your sign ordinance may be unconstitutional

By Matt Lonnerstater

sign_montageDoes your local sign ordinance contain regulations for “real estate signs,” “garage sale signs” or “political signs”? Well, then, it’s time to amend your sign ordinance!  In the 2015 Supreme Court case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the court rendered a far-reaching decision that will require significant modifications to many local sign ordinances. While the details of the case are complex, the overarching premise of the decision is fairly simple: A sign regulation that makes any distinction based on sign content is unconstitutional.

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Debunking Transportation Rules of Thumb

Traffic_night_rules_of_thumb_webWhat a marvelous device are our thumbs. They are so useful that we employ them in a figure of speech: Rules of thumb. Rules of overwhelming consensus, indisputable, golden.

Except when they’re not.

SmartTowns.org shared a blog from economist Joe Cortright dispelling some of the rules of thumb that are gospel to highway engineers and anathema to planners creating places.

Old Rules

  • We should have a high “level of service” on our streets
  • Wider streets are safer streets
  • We should require “enough” off-street parking for every use
  • We should plan for a certain number of car trips to be generated by every land use, no matter where it is.
  • We should have a hierarchy of streets

New rules

  • Slower is safer
  • Sharing is efficient
  • Our objective should be accessibility, not mobility

Cortright’s details for each rule make a compelling case.

Shared spaces: Where cars, pedestrians and cyclists coexist

By Sharlan Douglas
This is the second planning-themed article from CWA’s marketing consultant, based on observations from a recent vacation in France

 Throughout Europe, designers are deliberately creating shared spaces even along wide streets. Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman pioneered the concept, which removes all traffic control devices, markings, signs and curbs.

shared-streets1

“The philosophy is that absence of all of those features forces all users of the space — from pedestrians to drivers — to negotiate passage through the space via eye contact and person to person negotiation,” says this article from the Project for Public Spaces. “This is all premised on the idea that traditional streets allocate distinct spaces to the different modes, and in doing so create a false sense of security to each user leading them to behave as if they have no responsibility to look out for other users in ‘their” space.”

Monderman is quoted as saying: “We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior …The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”

While calling for continued study of shared spaces, the article reports that they

  • Reduce accidents
  • Coexist with high-speed roads, and
  • Are a political concept, not a transportation concept.