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Walkability And Public Space – Public Engagement To Drive Corridor Planning

Walkability And Public Space – Public Engagement To Drive Corridor Planning

1000 Friends of Wisconsin teams up with Schenk-Atwood neighborhood to proactively study the walking environment for better planning outcomes.

Score sheets were filled out during the walk by participants and coded, mapped, and compiled to aid in the corridor improvement process and ensure that the voices of pedestrians are front and center. See the interactive map here.


Planning and building streets and neighborhoods that are walkable and pedestrian friendly is a long process. In Madison, as in communities around the country, the list of corridors that need attention is long, and the budget for planning and reconstruction is stretched thin.

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Table 1: Selected major street improvement projects scheduled and estimated in 2013 City of Madison Capital Budget.

In addition, some of the city’s important transportation corridors become the subjects of more intensive corridor planning efforts. This process, which can take three to five years, helps guide comprehensive and land use planning, urban design guidelines, and transportation and infrastructure investments, among other things, along an important corridor.

comprehensive plan

Image 1: Proposed changes to Madison’s Comprehensive Plan and urban design
guidelines in the 2013 University Ave Corridor Plan. Image courtesy of Regent
Neighborhood Association and City of Madison.

Improvements to public space, particularly for pedestrians, should be a fundamental priority for corridor planning and street reconstruction. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in practice. Neighborhoods must work together and have proactive, forward-looking conversations about problems, priorities, and aspirations instead of simply reacting to changes that others propose.

Atwood Ave Walkability

Atwood Ave on Madison’s East Side has a funky, eclectic vibe that reflects the neighborhood it bisects. Since the corridor is due for a major reconstruction in coming years, now is the time for neighbors, advocates, and city leaders to craft a positive, people-centric vision for its streets and public spaces. 1000 Friends is working with the area’s neighborhood association to study the walking environment on Atwood Ave to help create public spaces that will improve walkability and quality of life.

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Image 2: Atwood Ave is home to sections of thriving local retail and quality pedestrian environments.

atwood2

Image 3: The corridor is also important for car traffic, with some sections less inviting and more challenging for pedestrians.

 

On Thursday, August 28, 2014, Matt Covert of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin led around 10 neighbors in a 1-hour walk of a short section of Atwood Ave. Armed with this walking guide (get the PDF here), this group examined elements of the pedestrian environment and engaged in lively discussions about comfort, safety, engagement, disabilities access, and more.

The group started and ended its walk at the Jackson Street Plaza, a temporary street closure spurred on by the opening of an ice cream shop in a long-vacant building on the corner of Jackson Street and Atwood. The ice cream shop drew crowds of families on foot and on bike, and placemaking efforts on the part of several community members, including Erin McWalter of Madison Traffic Garden, included street furniture and seating areas, a food cart night (pictured below), performance and visual arts, and more.

atwood

Image 4: Jackson Street Plaza on food cart night. Image courtesy of Madison Traffic Garden.

The score sheets were filled out during the walk by participants and coded, mapped, and compiled to aid in the corridor improvement process and ensure that the voices of pedestrians are front and center.

Image 5: Schenk’s Corners will be the focal point of the next Atwood Ave walkability tour with 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

Image 5: Schenk’s Corners will be the focal point of the next Atwood Ave walkability tour with 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

Next, 1000 Friends and the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood will hold a walkability tour at Schenk’s Corners, a large area on the western edge of the neighborhood surrounded by neighborhood businesses but in dire need of a retrofit (and pictured below). The date and time of that event are to be determined.

Matt Covert, Green Downtown Program Manager