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Old 10-03-2017, 07:54 AM   #1
Lrfox
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Pedestrian Only Zones

I'm creating this thread because I want to talk about the Globe article on Hagman Street in Winthrop, but I'm sure it's not the first attempt at something like this and I know it won't be the last (with Boston attempting it in various locations), so it might not be a bad idea to have a general pedestrian zones thread.

Here's the article:
Quote:
Winthrop tried to transform its downtown by closing a one-way street. It didnít go well.
WINTHROP ó It started innocently enough.

In an effort to draw more people downtown, and to make the area more vibrant, officials banned cars on a one-way street and invited pedestrians to take a stroll and hang out.


The experiment would last two months, town officials said, and would provide vital information on how to increase open space and make downtown more accessible. If successful, maybe Winthrop could have its own walkable district ó a version of Downtown Crossing or Harvard Square.
Full Story

Did anyone experience this in person? From the article and the photo, it seems like it was a half-assed attempt at making a designated pedestrian zone that failed for obvious reasons. The article itself states that the strip was uninviting. The photo makes it look like a construction zone. I imagine some more permanent, carefully designed barriers, a change in the road/pedestrian way surface, and the installation of some greenery (planters, at least) could have made it a lot better. But then again, I don't know the area enough to really have an idea of the potential here.

But I hate to see a weak effort go down as "evidence" that pedestrian zones aren't doable here.
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Old 10-03-2017, 09:16 AM   #2
millerm277
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Re: Pedestrian Only Zones

I did not visit Winthrop while this pedestrian zone existed. However, I have spent a decent amount of time in Winthrop before.

I can't really fathom what they were hoping to accomplish or why they thought it would work.

This is a lengthier description of how they'd altered traffic flows: http://www.winthroptranscript.com/20...k-in-center-2/




- The location picked was basically a block-long alley leading to a parking lot with professional services buildings and some hair/nail places. Not anything that people might want outdoor space in front of or anywhere people might want to spend any time.

- There's no public transit in Winthrop other than the Paul Revere 712/713 and that route is impractical at best to use for local transit, it's designed as an Orient Heights Blue Line shuttle. A decent portion of the town is a mile or more from downtown, even the whole beach area because of how the Golf Course chops up pedestrian routes.

- As a consequence of ^, just about everyone in town owns a car and uses it heavily, and it's pretty much a necessity in my view. There are some little grocery stores in town, but using that for your primary shopping would get expensive quickly. Most people go to the Stop & Shop in Beachmont.

- Winthrop isn't that busy of a place. The impetus for making a pedestrian zone often seems to be that the cars have a big negative impact on the area. Pedestrians are cramped on crowded sidewalks. There aren't enough places to sit. Cars are sitting in traffic and adding horns and pollution. None of those really exist in their downtown that I've seen.
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Old 10-03-2017, 09:21 AM   #3
fattony
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Re: Pedestrian Only Zones

I don't see anyone extrapolating much from this. This is a chicken/egg problem and Winthrop leadership have learned that the pedestrian zone doesn't come before the hip cafes and restaurants and parking changes and real demand from the community.

In my area (Davis Square) there has been talk for some time of pedestrianizing Grove Street and I'm all for it. I might like a cycle track incorporated, but definitely closed to cars.

Of course, downtown Winthrop is not Davis Square. Yet.
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Old 10-03-2017, 09:50 AM   #4
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Re: Pedestrian Only Zones

Quote:
Originally Posted by millerm277 View Post
- The location picked was basically a block-long alley leading to a parking lot with professional services buildings and some hair/nail places. Not anything that people might want outdoor space in front of or anywhere people might want to spend any time.

- There's no public transit in Winthrop other than the Paul Revere 712/713 and that route is impractical at best to use for local transit, it's designed as an Orient Heights Blue Line shuttle. A decent portion of the town is a mile or more from downtown, even the whole beach area because of how the Golf Course chops up pedestrian routes.

- As a consequence of ^, just about everyone in town owns a car and uses it heavily, and it's pretty much a necessity in my view. There are some little grocery stores in town, but using that for your primary shopping would get expensive quickly. Most people go to the Stop & Shop in Beachmont.

- Winthrop isn't that busy of a place. The impetus for making a pedestrian zone often seems to be that the cars have a big negative impact on the area. Pedestrians are cramped on crowded sidewalks. There aren't enough places to sit. Cars are sitting in traffic and adding horns and pollution. None of those really exist in their downtown that I've seen.
That makes sense. That's sort of what I expected to hear. So it probably wouldn't have worked even if the aesthetic and implementation was better?


Quote:
Originally Posted by fattony View Post
I don't see anyone extrapolating much from this. This is a chicken/egg problem and Winthrop leadership have learned that the pedestrian zone doesn't come before the hip cafes and restaurants and parking changes and real demand from the community.

In my area (Davis Square) there has been talk for some time of pedestrianizing Grove Street and I'm all for it. I might like a cycle track incorporated, but definitely closed to cars.

Of course, downtown Winthrop is not Davis Square. Yet.
I live between Teele and Davis, but I'm still relatively new and haven't heard about this. How likely is it to happen?

I'm assuming they're talking about Grove between Highland and Elm? It makes sense in that it's not a major thoroughfare except for people on Highland looking to loop back around towards Elm/Summer (which they can do anyway by going up one more block); but aside from just removing the cars, I'm not sure what the major benefit would be? There's no retail to speak of on that street and a significant amount of parking. I guess it could encourage the lot owners to develop them (which would be nice). I just don't see it happening without more development along the stretch beforehand.
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Old 10-03-2017, 10:12 AM   #5
fattony
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Re: Pedestrian Only Zones

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lrfox View Post
I live between Teele and Davis, but I'm still relatively new and haven't heard about this. How likely is it to happen?

I'm assuming they're talking about Grove between Highland and Elm? It makes sense in that it's not a major thoroughfare except for people on Highland looking to loop back around towards Elm/Summer (which they can do anyway by going up one more block); but aside from just removing the cars, I'm not sure what the major benefit would be? There's no retail to speak of on that street and a significant amount of parking. I guess it could encourage the lot owners to develop them (which would be nice). I just don't see it happening without more development along the stretch beforehand.
There was a "redesign/vision/etc" effort a few years ago and the concept was envisioned with the parking lots developed and the street changed to ped only. You can find the presentations with a little googling and poking around the city's website. I think that study/plan has been sitting on the shelf for years so it may no longer be relevant. I'm just hopeful!

There is a current planning effort underway that I have not gotten involved in yet, but there is a "final meeting" (whatever that means) coming up on Oct. 19. I'm hoping I can make it.

http://somerville.wickedlocal.com/ne...t-future-plans
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Old 10-03-2017, 10:34 AM   #6
DZH22
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Re: Pedestrian Only Zones

Quote:
Originally Posted by fattony View Post

In my area (Davis Square) there has been talk for some time of pedestrianizing Grove Street and I'm all for it. I might like a cycle track incorporated, but definitely closed to cars.
This doesn't make any sense. There is too much parking directly off this street, serving what I believe are residences, as well as the businesses on Elm. While Cutter can easily be used as the turnaround, this idea is useless unless they plan to redevelop all the lots. It's only hurting the employees of those establishments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fattony View Post
Of course, downtown Winthrop is not Davis Square. Yet.
Downtown Winthrop is not Davis Square, ever. It's far too inconvenient, not to mention space limited and LOUD from all the planes. Winthrop would be a perfect community for the deaf. There's also no comparing a direct stop on the Red Line with a bus.
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Old 10-03-2017, 12:43 PM   #7
elemenoh
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Re: Pedestrian Only Zones

Closing a street to cars is not the same as creating a pedestrian-friendly environment where people will want to linger. The photo in the Globe article shows how they completely missed the mark. To make it successful it should have had programmed events, pretty things like planters, nice seating, lighting, or street murals (not construction barriers!). If the shops are not destinations, there needs to be another reason for people to go there.

I wonder who the "officials" were that came up with this idea.
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