Friday, December 22, 2017

Plans for Housing and Shelters Need to Account for Walking and Biking

There's been lots of talk about the non-opening and then opening of warming shelters in Salem.

New UGM site:
The corner of Commercial and D Streets is hostile
to anyone not in a car
With the prospect of the UGM's move north (a preliminary matter was before the Hearings Officer a couple of days ago) across from the new site for the Police Station on a very zoomy stretch of Commercial Street, it should be an occasion to consider walking and bicycling there.

Our prevailing typologies for bicycling and for thinking of "family-friendly" standards, miss a large number of different users. They focus on - and express a bias for - people with sufficient discretionary income to make voluntary choices about transportation and to balance trade-offs in time, money, and comfort. Advocacy and rhetoric focuses on persuasion and those who might reasonably choose to make choices not to drive.

MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Guide
But this is far from all those who might use bikes. Sensing a major lacuna, some typologies add "workforce cyclists" or "invisible cyclists." But even these additions may miss those who do not have stable housing and who utterly depend on a bicycle for mobility.

There might be more bikes parked at the Mission
than anywhere else in Salem on a daily basis.
Some of the highest concentration of bike users and parked bikes are at our shelters.

As services move north to an area between Union Street and D Street, more people on bikes will be crossing Commercial Street and moving north or south along Commercial Street. The corner with D Street, where a median has removed crosswalks, will likely have increased pressure with unsanctioned "mid-block" crossings.

Concretely, for example, how will clients of the new UGM travel to the Northwest HUB for bike repair, service, or a new bike? Even going roundabout up Front Street to hit the lights on Market Street means crossing the treacherously narrow bridge over Mill Creek. Crossing Commercial at Division requires four separate legs on the south side of the intersection. Connections here are challenging and sometimes hostile. Overall, they are structured for the convenience of auto travel at the expense of all others.

So as we create this new district for social services, the zoning and land-use decisions may not adequately consider the transportation needs of those on foot, on bike, or hauling a grocery cart.

Addendum, Jan 2nd

Here's a new typology from NACTO. It breaks out many different kinds of users and sketches a little about what they might need or prefer. (NACTO has published a 16pp pamphlet, and here's much of the same material in a conventional web format.)

NACTO "Designing for all Ages and Abilities"

1 comment: