Erica has a post up right now about a batch of changes that the Seattle Department of Transportation is considering making to public rights-of-way—such as activating alleys, creating micro-parks ("parklets" that would take over parking spaces inspired by the DIY "Park(ing) Day movment), and dedicating more space to bike racks, farmers' markets, gardening, street vending, sidewalk cafes, and play equipment for kids.
Informative post from ECB, and I'm editorializing here, also a little too wonky to capture the excitement of what's happening. (Erica was also a little spooked by the prospect of expanding advertising, and she focused a bit on that.)
A comprehensive, energetic list, which was put together by a 34-member task force that apparently included Jane Jacobs.With the exception of a few cool ideas that weren't included, such as scrambles (crosswalks where you can cross diagonally), woonerfs (where bikes, peds, and cars share the same space like in Pike Place Market), and targeted total street takeovers (like they've done with a portion of Times Square in New York City), the only things missing from this comprehensive, energetic list, which was put together by a 34-member task force that apparently included Jane Jacobs, are street escalators to free pizza and beer gardens in the sky.
Seriously though, this list of recommendations, with a goal to "activate the right-of-way so that people will be encouraged to linger and enjoy public spaces" ... and "enhance the character of Seattle's neighborhoods and promote economic vitality," is an exciting document that brings much of the urbanist thinking that's been blossoming at UW's urban planning school since the late '90s and migrating to our city's surfeit of planning think tanks and design firms to the forefront and the mainstream.
I'm glad to see a formal planning document like this coming from the city. SDOT says it will be working with other city agencies, community and neighborhood groups, and private partners to develop the 22 public right-of-way programs they've identified over a five-year time line.
Of course, there's no money budgeted yet for all these plans (nor a cost estimate)—"additional resources will be needed," the Public Space Management Program report states flatly. And certainly a huge footnote: North Seattle famously doesn't even have sidewalks to work with, so they might want to start there when it comes to activating public space.
SDOT is presenting the report to the city council on Monday. I'm certain it will go over well. But hopefully, they'll be inspired to truly get SDOT's back on this program and earmark some real money to make it less fanciful than it seems.