December 8, 2019

Jacob’s Golden Update: Jackson Street Corridor Improvements and Other News

Jacob’s Golden Update: February 23, 2010

1. Jackson Street Corridor Pedestrian and Bike Improvements
2. Bachman Open Space Purchase Moves Forward
3. Improving Protections for Mobile Home Park Residents
4. Beltway Briefing
5. CSM Projects Gain City Council Approval
6. TIGER Grants Announced
7. Golden’s New Community Bus: Open House on March 2
8. Jacob’s Golden Blog Roundup
9. Other Upcoming Events
10. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, February 25
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Jacob's Golden Update: City Council Adopts Permit Parking and Other News

Jacob’s Golden Update: January 29, 2010

1. DRCOG Approves “Jefferson Parkway” Toll Highway Proposal
2. City Council Adopts Permit Parking Near CSM
3. Moving Forward With Other CSM Agreements
4. Community Bus Neighborhood Meetings
5. Planning Commission Openings: Deadline February 18
6. Talking Trash: Trash Hauling and Recycling
7. Golden Public Works Earns Top Honors
8. Smith for Golden Blog Roundup
9. Other Upcoming Events
10. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, February 4

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Jacob’s Golden Update: City Council Adopts Permit Parking and Other News

Jacob’s Golden Update: January 29, 2010

1. DRCOG Approves “Jefferson Parkway” Toll Highway Proposal
2. City Council Adopts Permit Parking Near CSM
3. Moving Forward With Other CSM Agreements
4. Community Bus Neighborhood Meetings
5. Planning Commission Openings: Deadline February 18
6. Talking Trash: Trash Hauling and Recycling
7. Golden Public Works Earns Top Honors
8. Smith for Golden Blog Roundup
9. Other Upcoming Events
10. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, February 4

**********

** Follow me on Twitter (username: jacobzsmith). **

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"Daylighting" for Improved Pedestrian Safety

There are plenty of pedestrian safety and comfort issues that can be hard to spot from a car, but are all too apparent when you spend time navigating on foot.  I came across this blog post earlier in the year promoting an idea she calls “daylighting,” which amounts to removing parking spaces adjacent to curbs around intersections in order to increase visibility for driver and pedestrian alike at street crossings.  In most cities, I would presume, daylighting already occurs – there seems to usually be some minimum distance of no-parking zone away from corners.  Naming the practice has some value, though, drawing attention to the pedestrian visibility value of the practice.

Streetfilms (which is a really interesting web site, by the way) has a nice, short video about the idea.  You’ll notice that in Golden we already do this in many places.  We prohibit parking within a minimum distance of street corners.  We also use what we call bump-outs at many intersections to create more visibility, keep cars moving at a safe speed, and narrow the crossing distance for pedestrians.

“Daylighting” for Improved Pedestrian Safety

There are plenty of pedestrian safety and comfort issues that can be hard to spot from a car, but are all too apparent when you spend time navigating on foot.  I came across this blog post earlier in the year promoting an idea she calls “daylighting,” which amounts to removing parking spaces adjacent to curbs around intersections in order to increase visibility for driver and pedestrian alike at street crossings.  In most cities, I would presume, daylighting already occurs – there seems to usually be some minimum distance of no-parking zone away from corners.  Naming the practice has some value, though, drawing attention to the pedestrian visibility value of the practice.

Streetfilms (which is a really interesting web site, by the way) has a nice, short video about the idea.  You’ll notice that in Golden we already do this in many places.  We prohibit parking within a minimum distance of street corners.  We also use what we call bump-outs at many intersections to create more visibility, keep cars moving at a safe speed, and narrow the crossing distance for pedestrians.

Crafting a Vision for Downtown Parks and Parking

Park(ing) Day – the program to temporarily convert parking spots into parks for a day – earned some media and blogosphere attention in the past couple of weeks.  I think it’s a fun idea, but I find the idea more interesting for the conversations it provokes about public space, parking, and vibrant downtowns.  That provocation, I assume, is the point.

large_park2

A temporary park on Southwest Fifth Avenue in downtown Portland between Alder and Washington streets.

Now if a downtown merchant comes up with a cool idea for converting a parking spot in front of their business into a public space, for example, I’d certainly consider it (an idea that surfaced at last week’s City Council meeting).  But I’m particularly interested in crafting a sensible vision for the redeveloping portion of our downtown (roughly between Washington and Ford, which we might call East Downtown), and doing so in a way that intelligently incorporates public space, so I’d especially welcome a thoughtful and coherent conversation about what sort of public space might make the most sense, where it should go, and how it should look.

That conversation has been more challenging than I might have expected, since we don’t yet have a good process for figuring out what we want East Downtown to look like and because of how strongly our downtown retailers group has opposed any additional public space downtown (I love ’em but on this issue we disagree).

A temporary "Pavement to Parks" project in San Francisco at 17th and Castro ("Castro Commons").

A temporary "Pavement to Parks" project in San Francisco at 17th and Castro ("Castro Commons").

I’ve been inquiring about the research assessing the economic value of public space in urban environments.  Given how obvious the question is, the number of urban public spaces across the country, and the exploding and sustained interest in urban redevelopment, I’m pretty surprised at how little I’ve found so far.  In fact, only two sources have uncovered anything, and they both found the same Trust for Public Lands study.  It’s useful but limited.  We know, though, that parks and similar public space can have a substantial positive impact on the value of property in residential areas, and it certainly seems intuitive that a good balance of public space will help draw more people to downtown and that they’ll end up spending more time there, both of which should be good for our merchants and our sales tax.

The good and not very surprising news is that the TPL study does identify a number of clear economic benefits (including some that I hadn’t thought of), but some additional research that more directly tackles what surely must be the two most politically relevant economic benefits questions in most contexts – property tax and sales and use tax implications – would be helpful.

Park(ing) Day projects in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Park(ing) Day projects in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The “Pavement to Parks” approach (described in this New York Times article), is interesting because it often employs what you might call a “borrow” model: it often requires little capital up front and the public use conversion is generally reversible.  This discussion is happening in a limited way in Golden right now because of GURA’s plans to develop their on 13th between Prospectors Alley and Jackson St.  While I’m very supportive of creating additional public space downtown as we redevelop, I also think it’s hard to figure out where the right locations for parks are without a clear vision for the area, and that particular lot might or might not be a good one.  The idea of a temporary park may fit the bill perfectly, as it allows us to test drive a park, so to speak, while not foreclosing on any other options.  And just in case you are concerned about the adequacy of parking downtown, we’ll get the final results on a detailed parking study soon, but the preliminary results suggest that we have far more than we need, so we probably have some maneuvering room.

By the way, the NYT article links to an interesting video about Park(ing) Day.  It focuses on San Francisco but touches on other projects as well.  If you watch the last thirty seconds or so you’ll see a montage of Park(ing) Day conversions all over the world.

Community Meeting on GHS Parking and Traffic

Tomorrow night we are having a community meeting at Golden High School to discuss both student parking issues (during the part of the construction period when the high school lot will be unavailable) and the future of the intersection in front of the high school (24th and Jackson streets). On the latter, there seem to be two basic options: a) create a large, conventional intersection with traffic lights, or b) create a large roundabout. Like many folks, I've generally been a fan of standard intersections but in the course of these discussions have been looking at the research on roundabouts and am now a lot warmer to them then I thought possible. Strangely enough, roundabouts tend to reduce traffic accidents, injuries, fatalities, travel speeds, and pollution, while at the same time improving pedestrian safety and travel times (even though you drive slower you don't have to stop as often or for as long).

Our own roundabouts on South Golden Road are a case in point. As the graph shows, our accident and injury rates dropped substantially after we installed the roundabouts.

Roundabout Stats
This is the first graphic I've inserted into the blog, by the way, and I realize you can't see it too well (I'll work on my graphics insertion skills), but the bars are showing accident and injury rates on South Golden Road before (the left half) and after (the right half) the roundabouts were installed.

Other studies across the United States and elsewhere seem to show the same pattern. According to RoundaboutsUSA (which offers a nice primer on roundabouts and their use), "roundabouts have been shown to reduce fatal and injury accidents by as much as 76% in the USA."

AAA has a background paper on their site citing an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report concluding that roundabouts have been shown to reduce crashes at intersections. You'll find similar articles and info in New Urban News, at the Maryland Department of Transportation web site, and undoubtedly other places as well.

I haven't researched the issue extensively, but have so far only seen two significant concerns identified in the literature: a) that multilane roundabouts may be less safe for bicycles unless separate bicycle or multi–use paths are provided around the outside of the roundabout; and b) that visually impaired or blind pedestrians may have difficulty when trying to judge gaps in traffic across entries or exits with more than one lane. I'm hoping city staff can clarify how those concerns might play out at this particular intersection. If you have thoughts on whether we should go with a conventional intersection or a roundabout in front of Golden High School please attend the community meeting, post your thoughts on the blog here, or send your thoughts to City Council.

The community meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, April 12) at Golden High School.