Sunday, June 05, 2016

Where is the best place to put a bike rack? (A clue: not where it blocks a sidewalk).

The Green Mouse has learned that there is a push to install bicycle racks in downtown New Albany.

On the surface, this is a positive development. However, this depends on details -- where the bicycle racks are to be placed, and whether they act to reinforce desired walkability and bikeability, or simply serve to bolster the prevailing auto-centrism, which prevents downtown from achieving its best use.

Consider the corner of Market and Bank.

A source tells the Green Mouse that bicycle racks are to be placed atop the sidewalk, here.

But: Isn't this precisely the spot for a bench or amenities for walkers -- assuming, of course, that this tree isn't about to be slaughtered by the Lumber Board?

Because: Isn't the sidewalk intended for those walking?

And: Doesn't the city's own ordinance prohibit adults from riding bicycles on sidewalks in the historic business district?

(Trust me, it does)

So: If bicycles are supposed to be on the street, wouldn't it make more sense to park them in their own parking space, as here, where this truck is parked?

Sorry, there's even more to it. In the ongoing absence of concrete proposals, it remains that City Hall and certain public officials continue to whisper privately that Jeff Speck's walkability study will at some point serve as the basis for street grid changes.

If true, then why would bicycle racks be placed now without reference to the "master street reform plan" that we're told will be revealed very soon?

Is there a master plan, or must we invariably act in piecemeal fashion? Maybe if city officials stopped looking at potential stakeholders as though we're space aliens, a semblance of grassroots participation could be gained. 


C.S. Drake said...

But yet some businesses continue to block the vast majority of the sidewalks downtown, and silence, a piano plopped on the street solicited praise, even though they are better suited to concert halls, not sidewalks where someone could fall flat or hit something sharp.
Campaigns were successful in removing the evil flower pots that were blooming versions of the Grim Reaper, a campaign to vilify a 30 year old base of a sign post that protruded ¼ of an inch above the surrounding sidewalk before hundreds were slaughtered were successful.
Why not simply let a small improvement be a small improvement?
Not too long ago you would have sung praises of the installation of a bike rack, and poetically reminisced of how it reminded you of quaint cobblestone streets in Bergen or some other far off old world utopia...
Anymore, anything that is attempted that isn't specifically sanctioned by Speck is grounds for vitriolic bashing, and that's sad. Very Sad.

The New Albanian said...

"But yet some businesses continue to block the vast majority of the sidewalks downtown."

Please elaborate.

As for the piano, there were no issues in terms of spatial or ADA restrictions.

All I did here was suggest that rack placement await other hinted-at changes, so as not to wastefully repeat steps, to adhere to ordinance, and follow a master plan. I recall times when you'd had led such a charge. What changed?

C.S. Drake said...

For elaboration: two top examples, bsb routinely places buckboards in the bumpout section of the sidewalk. Bella Roma's al fresco dining leaves very little room to pass on the sidewalk. All things being equal, this type of thing should be called out as well, if it isn't, then the walkability campaign is partisan.
And yes sir, you are correct, I too once partook in charges, but had all but given up on community advocacy when my family became fodder for others insults.

You and I still share the common thread of living in the same part of town, facing the same issues as urban dwellers. However, that being said, I know when beating the perverbial dead horse actually hinders progress.
The old adage "catch more flies with honey" holds true.
The changes are coming, in parts, but constant vitriolic language only serves to lessen the chances of it occurring expediently.
Accidents will happen, there is no avoiding them, even if every minute detail of the speck study was implemented by the end of this month, there would be accidents that occur in July.
But in the meantime, try to consider that there is not only the mindset of walkability in this area of town, there are other priorities and needs as well.
The downtown area has grown well beyond what was expected 20 years ago when the seeds of rebirth were sewn, and did so with one way streets, flower pots, medians, cars, trucks, trains, traffic jams.
We have grown leaps and bounds and continue to do so, more and more people are seeing as a destination, not a pass thru. More and more local dollars are staying local. Independent, locally owned source for drink, dining, shopping, outdoor gear, niche items, art classes, continues to grow.
That should be celebrated, not lamenting every step that is attempted, and using every incident to rattle sabers, hurl insults, and demand instant gratification for one possible avenue for continued improvement.

The New Albanian said...

If there weren't voluminous evidence from America and across the world that complete streets, calmed traffic, two-way streets and walkability combine to produce a multiplier effect for your "one possible avenue," then I wouldn't advocate for them so strenuously.

It is precisely this multiplier effect that argues most persuasively for the reforms, as other needs and priorities are assisted, not impeded. No, it does nothing to address income inequality or affordable housing, but no local politician will touch those. Conversely, complete streets are possible -- it's being done elsewhere, and it works.

The ADA sidewalk standard is 48 inches. I noticed yesterday that in front of Good Times on Market, the gas company put one of the decorative wooden boxes over its new meter. Clearance between it and the light pole is about 36 inches. They should be busted for that.

I believe Bella Roma is legal. Habana Blues clearly is not when the tables get pushed closer to the street. And BSB frustrates me, as you might imagine. When I was there, it didn't happen. Dan Coffey has mentioned this twice in recent months at council meetings, and I've warned restaurant owners that it's on someone's radar. I can see they read my words, but my guess is they've been told by Duggins or another functionary not to worry about it.

As you know, the problem is institutional. Probably never in all my Board of Works observations have I heard someone ask, "Will it block the sidewalk?"

Rather, each and every time: "Will it affect traffic?"

If the answer came, "no, it won't affect traffic because we'll block the sidewalk," the board would sign off on it.