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Author Topic: Apparently there was a walkability conference in town yesterday  (Read 4009 times)
BKDotCom
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« on: October 15, 2014, 08:12:13 am »

Stepping up:
Conference focuses on walkability Conference focuses on Tulsa's walkability and its impact on economy


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Chuck Marohn walked to lunch Tuesday afternoon, and, boy, was that an unpleasant experience.

“It was terrible,” Marohn said.

Don’t worry, Schlotzsky’s. He wasn’t talking about his sandwich.

It was the harrowing walk from the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa campus at 41st Street and Yale Avenue to the sandwich shop across the street.

“It was dangerous. It was not pleasant in any way,” he said before speaking at Tuesday’s Walk to the Future Summit at OU-Tulsa.

The event focused on the potential economic benefits of creating a more walkable city.

Marohn, president and co-founder of Strong Cities, is a believer. Speaking to more than 100 people at the university’s Learning Center, he argued that the automobile-based development strategies of the past 70 years are unsustainable.

The country, including municipalities nationwide, is going broke trying to maintain the endless miles of roads and other automobile-related infrastructure that has been constructed since World War II, Marohn said.

Cities also are being burdened by the incentives they provide companies to come to their cities, especially those that leave municipalities responsible for the long-term upkeep and replacement of the infrastructure that helped lure the businesses in first place.

“When you have to make good on that promise you made (years) ago, what you find is that” the tax revenue is insufficient, Marohn said.

A better approach, he said, is dense, incremental development. Using images from his hometown of Brainard, Minn., and other cities, he noted that densely developed urban properties are typically more valuable than ones that are home to a single business.

Cut down on the required number of parking spaces. Build up to the street. Throw in a sidewalk. All of these create a sense of community and are not difficult or expensive to do, Marohn said.

The federal government does not require cities to build sidewalks, and Tulsa has been criticized by some for its lack of them.

Planning Director Dawn Warrick said the city is making progress, noting that sidewalks are now required in all new subdivisions.

“It’s evolving one project at a time and what we can supplement with capital funding,” she said.

The city puts sidewalks on each side of any arterial street that is widened and a sidewalk on at least one side of any arterial street that is rehabilitated. It’s working on its Complete Streets program, which attempts to make streets accessible to all modes of transportation.

The Improve Our Tulsa capital improvements package, meanwhile, includes more than $10 million to address Americans with Disabilities Act compliance requirements.

Of the city’s 466 miles of arterial and downtown streets, 227 have sidewalks, according to figures provided by the Indian Nations Council of Governments.

Kathleen Shelton would love it if there were more. She is blind. So is her husband, Paul Shelton. But they like to stroll through their south Tulsa neighborhood and would do more of it if there were more sidewalks. That’s why she attended Tuesday’s summit.

“I would just like to walk as far as I could in any direction,” she said. “It’s odd that (currently) you have to drive to where you want to walk.”

As for his lunch trip, Marohn said that, too, could be made better, with great benefits not only for pedestrians but for the city’s economy.

“In order to make that walk just marginally better, it would take just a tiny, tiny sum of money,” he said before his speech. “If we did that, we would see the value of the restaurant go up and the value of this university go up at the same time that we would be making the surrounding neighborhood values go up.”

Tuesday’s event was sponsored by the Tulsa Health Department, Tulsa’s Young Professionals and the University of Oklahoma Society of Urban Design Students.
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Conan71
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2014, 08:57:24 am »

I really don’t get his bellyache over a walk from the Schusterman campus to Schlotzsky’s.  Walk down the sidewalk to 41st & Yale or walk to the crossing from Schusterman at Yale then north to 41st.  Cross two crosswalks and you are there.  How does it get any more pedestrian-friendly than that other than asshat drivers who don’t understand the purpose of a crosswalk?
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2014, 09:28:01 am »

I really don’t get his bellyache over a walk from the Schusterman campus to Schlotzsky’s.  Walk down the sidewalk to 41st & Yale or walk to the crossing from Schusterman at Yale then north to 41st.  Cross two crosswalks and you are there.  How does it get any more pedestrian-friendly than that other than asshat drivers who don’t understand the purpose of a crosswalk?

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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2014, 09:42:38 am »

other than asshat drivers who don’t understand the purpose of a crosswalk?

Well yeah...that bugs me.
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2014, 04:45:39 pm »

I really don’t get his bellyache over a walk from the Schusterman campus to Schlotzsky’s.  Walk down the sidewalk to 41st & Yale or walk to the crossing from Schusterman at Yale then north to 41st.  Cross two crosswalks and you are there.  How does it get any more pedestrian-friendly than that other than asshat drivers who don’t understand the purpose of a crosswalk?

Sidewalks don't equal pedestrian friendly all by themselves. Which is one beef I have with the article and the people touting all the new sidewalks going in all over the city. Frankly there are some streets where it will barely matter whether there is a sidewalk down it or not because it will still not be any place where anyone will want to walk. Sure may be an improvement of sorts, but not for the amount of usage it will get.  They say we can't afford to hire enough people to implement the new comprehensive plan which would allow for some areas to truly become more pedestrian friendly, but then they can find enough money to hire people to install sidewalks down streets hardly anyone will want to walk down because they are not pedestrian friendly?  Gawd, really?
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2014, 06:15:52 pm »

Townsend has convinced me that we need sidewalks by Memorial connecting the sidewalks north of 111th to the path south of 131st so I don't get grass stains on my shoes walking to and from the Bixby BBQ festival.

Should be easy.  There is already a walkway separate from the street on the bridge over Fry Creek Ditch. (west side)
http://goo.gl/maps/SX9kO

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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2014, 09:50:09 am »

I really don’t get his bellyache over a walk from the Schusterman campus to Schlotzsky’s.  Walk down the sidewalk to 41st & Yale or walk to the crossing from Schusterman at Yale then north to 41st.  Cross two crosswalks and you are there.  How does it get any more pedestrian-friendly than that other than asshat drivers who don’t understand the purpose of a crosswalk?
He actually makes a very valid point.  This intersection is terrible for pedestrians.  It's about a mile from my house, but I never walk there, even though it has sidewalks the whole way.  I only ride my bike there when it's really late at night or on Sunday mornings when there's no traffic b/c I don't want to compete with people driving 45-50 mph. 

The problem from a pedestrian's viewpoint has to do with the width of the lanes (I'm guessing about 12 feet, which is rated for freeway speeds by the Federal Highway Administration and encourages drivers to go fast), the number of lanes (six!) and the fact that cars are driving 45 mph as they zoom by.  Also, cars turning right on red don't look to the right (for pedestrians) or stop before making the turn (dedicated right-turn lanes encourage this behavior).

Walk down there and see how you feel as a pedestrian.  The sidewalks abut the street, so there's no sense of a buffer between you and the killing machines...er...cars.  And when you have a "walk" signal, you are being assaulted by the cars turning right on red without stopping or looking. Then you have to make it across about 25 yards of asphalt.

Once across the street, you discover that the sidewalks are not continuous (they end abruptly in funny places).  Sidewalks are interrupted by 50 foot wide curb cuts that allow cars to enter the shopping center at high speeds (in many cases, the sidewalks "feed" into these entrances, as if that's the natural place where a person on foot wants to go). After all that, you land in a nice asphalt ocean which you have to traverse to reach your destination (grocery store, etc). 

All of this matters--and when you're on foot, it's obvious.  Your sense of discomfort is visceral.  It's not enjoyable, and does not encourage walking.
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Conan71
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2014, 10:35:58 am »

He actually makes a very valid point.  This intersection is terrible for pedestrians.  It's about a mile from my house, but I never walk there, even though it has sidewalks the whole way.  I only ride my bike there when it's really late at night or on Sunday mornings when there's no traffic b/c I don't want to compete with people driving 45-50 mph. 

The problem from a pedestrian's viewpoint has to do with the width of the lanes (I'm guessing about 12 feet, which is rated for freeway speeds by the Federal Highway Administration and encourages drivers to go fast), the number of lanes (six!) and the fact that cars are driving 45 mph as they zoom by.  Also, cars turning right on red don't look to the right (for pedestrians) or stop before making the turn (dedicated right-turn lanes encourage this behavior).

Walk down there and see how you feel as a pedestrian.  The sidewalks abut the street, so there's no sense of a buffer between you and the killing machines...er...cars.  And when you have a "walk" signal, you are being assaulted by the cars turning right on red without stopping or looking. Then you have to make it across about 25 yards of asphalt.

Once across the street, you discover that the sidewalks are not continuous (they end abruptly in funny places).  Sidewalks are interrupted by 50 foot wide curb cuts that allow cars to enter the shopping center at high speeds (in many cases, the sidewalks "feed" into these entrances, as if that's the natural place where a person on foot wants to go). After all that, you land in a nice asphalt ocean which you have to traverse to reach your destination (grocery store, etc). 

All of this matters--and when you're on foot, it's obvious.  Your sense of discomfort is visceral.  It's not enjoyable, and does not encourage walking.

I agree, it can be bad for pedestrians who aren’t paying attention or taking simple precaution like walking against traffic.  I’m not really sure how you improve that though unless you erect a wall between the sidewalk and street or put in pedestrian fly-overs where you still have to walk along a sidewalk once you cross.  Let’s face it, that intersection has always been auto-oriented.  It’s a classic example of Tulsa’s suburban growth patterns, I simply didn’t get his sweaty palm perspective on it.
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2014, 11:41:57 am »

So only fit, agile adults should be pedestrians? Those who have the physical ability to dash quickly through the intersection, undaunted by the inherent risks? Should our public ROW be safe for 80-year-old pedestrians? What about kids? No? Too bad for them, they can just catch a ride...

One possible solution: two 10-foot wide lanes in each direction. Eliminate dedicated turn lanes and install a well-designed roundabout. (There are no examples of this in Tulsa. Do not grumble until you experience one. Go to Carmel, Indiana and see how it works.) Traffic builds up at intersections, which is why we add all those extra lanes. With a well-designed roundabout, traffic never stops so it doesn't accumulate. Thus, two lanes are plenty. Traffic flows slowly through the circle, and pedestrian crossings are located away from the circle, so you only have to cross two lanes at a time, typically with a green space separating the opposing traffic lanes.

Yes, this causes motorists to slow down. Yes, it prevents them from driving at highway speeds through town. Is this bad? I guess it depends on your goals for the city. Should it be a destination, or an extension of the highway system?
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2014, 12:26:03 pm »

This pretty much reminds me of Urban Triage sections of Jeff Speck's talks. You can easily see from satellite images none of the developments near 41st & Yale were built with walking between anything but the parking lots considered, there are a lot more places around Tulsa that could be made more walkable and have a greater impact than that area, so if the property owners want to improve connections on their dime fine but this should not rank high on a list of where city funds for walkability go.
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2014, 01:20:38 pm »

This pretty much reminds me of Urban Triage sections of Jeff Speck's talks. You can easily see from satellite images none of the developments near 41st & Yale were built with walking between anything but the parking lots considered, there are a lot more places around Tulsa that could be made more walkable and have a greater impact than that area, so if the property owners want to improve connections on their dime fine but this should not rank high on a list of where city funds for walkability go.

That is part of what puzzles me about the sidewalk thing. There seems to be no thought other than "ok we are going to put in sidewalks along all arterials, and that will help with walkability".  Sure it "may help", but if I were to look at those funds and go, ok what areas would it be best to put sidewalks in first, aka, where there might be more people who would and could actually use them... and then perhaps take another portion of those funds and say get the "trolley" to run more often, and to Cherry Street/Brookside/Downtown/Gathering Place. 

Or better yet, save the sidewalk money for now and use it to get the danged zoning changed per the new master plan so that it is legal to build pedestrian friendly developments in the first place. Then make sure there are sidewalks in those areas. Putting in sidewalks where it's illegal, and will stay illegal, to build "sidewalk friendly" developments?  Kind of awkward.
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2014, 01:49:34 pm »

So only fit, agile adults should be pedestrians? Those who have the physical ability to dash quickly through the intersection, undaunted by the inherent risks? Should our public ROW be safe for 80-year-old pedestrians? What about kids? No? Too bad for them, they can just catch a ride...

One possible solution: two 10-foot wide lanes in each direction. Eliminate dedicated turn lanes and install a well-designed roundabout. (There are no examples of this in Tulsa. Do not grumble until you experience one. Go to Carmel, Indiana and see how it works.) Traffic builds up at intersections, which is why we add all those extra lanes. With a well-designed roundabout, traffic never stops so it doesn't accumulate. Thus, two lanes are plenty. Traffic flows slowly through the circle, and pedestrian crossings are located away from the circle, so you only have to cross two lanes at a time, typically with a green space separating the opposing traffic lanes.

Yes, this causes motorists to slow down. Yes, it prevents them from driving at highway speeds through town. Is this bad? I guess it depends on your goals for the city. Should it be a destination, or an extension of the highway system?

They have a couple of roundabouts in Taos on the road to Angel Fire.  Works great there but can you imagine what Tulsa’s traffictards would do with those?  Drive through the one at 36th & Hudson in the morning or afternoon during the school commute.  People in this town do not understand simple concepts like leaving with plenty of time to make it to work/school/wherever nor what a yield sign means and how that differs from a stop sign.  You are far more optimistic than I am that Tulsa drivers will slow down and pay attention if you modify the roadways.
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