Thursday, October 23, 2008
In addition to accommodating all users, complete street designs incorporate landscaping, trees and other features which provide both aesthetic and functional benefits, ultimately creating a sense of place that attracts all the users it was designed for.
The City of Tacoma is currently engaged in a study to incorporate complete street principles in the 16 Mixed-Use Centers. Tacoma’s Mixed-Use Centers are areas (primarily the neighborhood business districts) that are planned for high density housing, commercial revitalization, pedestrian friendly development and frequent transit service.
A number of recent planning processes have highlighted the benefits of and need for complete streets including Angelou Economics economic development strategy, the Downtown Plan Update, Destination Downtown, the Transportation Element of the Comprehensive Plan, and the Green Ribbon Taskforce.
The complete streets study identifies four street typologies, each with their own characteristics and uses. For more information on preliminary findings and designs here.
Main Streets (think McKinley, Proctor and 6th Ave.): High density people intensive retail uses oriented to the street. Street design emphasizes walking and highlights transit and bike access while promoting traffic calming. Two lanes streets (25 mph), short blocks with generous sidewalks.
Avenues (think S. Tacoma Way, S. 19th and Portland Ave): Commercial, office and mixed uses with buildings oriented to the street and parking in the rear. Street design emphasizes mobility and balances safety and service for all modes. Three to five travel lanes (35 mph) with on-street parking. Encourage mid-block crossings with medians and pedestrian islands on longer blocks (500’-600’).
Transit Priority Streets (think Tacoma Ave., Division and Pacific): High density people-intensive uses. Mixed use buildings oriented to the street. Street design promotes frequent transit service (bus and streetcar) and a high quality pedestrian environment with curb bulbs and regular pedestrian crossings.. Two shared travel lanes (25mph) with on street parking where appropriate. Bikes are accommodated on parallel streets.
Urban Residential Streets: Primarily Multifamily residential uses with limited commercial/ mixed uses. Street design promotes ‘livable streets’ with wide sidewalks, public art, seating, pedestrian scale lighting, attractive landscaping, bike lanes. Two travel lanes with slow travel speeds. Angled or parallel parking on street for visitors, residential parking in nearby lots/garages.
The purpose of the complete streets study is to inform a City Council policy discussion of the opportunities and challenges in Tacoma. The project will develop guidelines for complete streets that, if approved, would be used to direct future street improvements within the Centers.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Nearly 25 riders met in Proctor, East Tacoma, and near the Scott Pierson trail off of Union during rush hour this morning. All three groups rendezvoused at the Tacoma Municipal Building, where riders faced perhaps one of the biggest challenges of the morning: Where to store the bikes.
These “uh-oh” moments were just what organizers had hoped for, and as participants chatted over breakfast, the conversation was rich with more observations and insightful perspective on how Tacoma can become a more bike-friendly city.
Here are some of the themes of what people noticed and suggested:
- Road conditions were inconsistent and often dangerous. Riders often have to make sudden decisions about how best to avoid potholes, which is particularly tricky and unsafe when there are vehicles nearby (driving and parked). The danger factor of potholes and other wear and tear – and whether people even notice them – often depends on how many wheels you have underneath you.
- Bulb outs are great for pedestrians, but not always for bikes. Unless they are incorporated into the street design properly with all transportation modes in mind, these devices aimed to improve walking can be detrimental to biking.
- We need better signage for what we do have. Even when there were trails or bike lanes, it was hard for newer riders to know how they connected.
- The Pierce County Bike Map needs help. Badly. Commuters also need a bike map that focuses on downtown and residential areas. Connecting modes (like public transit) is also necessary, especially for those of us looking for ways to get out of downtown without climbing Tacoma’s treacherous hills.
- Vehicles behave differently when there is a herd of bikes. Let’s be honest: with 7-8 riders and lots of reflective clothing, we were pretty hard to miss this morning. When you’re a lone cyclist, it can be trickier to know how to behave in traffic and bike predictably (read: safely).
On that note, the overarching call to action for the morning was the need for not only adequate biking infrastructure, but appropriate education for cyclists and motor vehicle drivers. Casual and avid riders alike emphasized that the instances in which they felt the least safe were when they either didn’t know how to behave as a cyclist or when cars behaved unpredictably around them. Becoming a city that encourages biking as transportation, recreation, and fitness means that we need to adjust our collective mindset and behaviors to be predictable, legal, and safe as we build better biking amenities.
This is certainly only the beginning of the conversation, and it is an imperative one for Tacoma residents to be a part of. Talk your City Council and City Staff about biking in Tacoma. Encourage them to keep these comments and issues in mind as they consider a Bike and Pedestrian master plan next year.
Friday, October 10, 2008
This year's Tour of Urban Living will take place THIS WEEKEND, October 11th and 12th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
We hope you'll join us! Here's more information:
During this time:
- Court A will be closed to traffic
- There will be limited parking around the Post Office. The principal exception will be on the east side of A Street
All filming will occur inside the building. Filming itself will be on the third floor, so access to postal services and boxes should not be impacted.
Questions or Comments? email or call Nancy P. Grabinski-Young, Economic Development Supervisor, Tacoma Community & Economic Development Department 253.591.5394.
Friday, October 03, 2008
This fun event was even more enjoyable thanks to what looks to be the last day of sunshine in a while. The Harmon and Hub restaurants provided lunch, and Blackwater Café and Mad Hat Tea treated attendees to their great brews of coffee and tea. The Joe Baque trio from Olympia provided music, and one of Frost Park’s finest chalk artists livened up the cement with transportation-related cartoons. There were no SOVs, of course. Commuters won great prizes, and many signed up to begin logging their new commutes to be entered into drawings to win great prizes – you can too by visiting http://www.piercetrips.com/.
This isn’t the last you’ll see of Downtown: On the Go! – we’re just gearing up. If you are interested in how you or your business can reduce your commute trips or set up a Commute Trip Reduction program for employees, contact Jessica Holden at the Chamber (firstname.lastname@example.org, 253.627.2175).