No Parking

Someone I follow on Twitter shared this article yesterday from the Project for Public Spaces.

(If you are interested in urban development/renewal, I suggest you follow @wbennomartens.  He posts good, thoughtful tweets as well as good, thoughtful articles on the subject.)

The article seems fit for Cleveland.

Cleveland and the region is stuck in car culture, a remnant from the old streetcar days which were then run out of business (see Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) and white flight.  Take a walk around Downtown and count the garages and lots.

There are areas that have become more pedestrian friendly or never lost that quality.  Unfortunately, these areas are separated by miles of, you guessed it, roads and empty lots.

The article mentions connectivity.  Cleveland’s set-up makes it impossible to walk from each hotspot to the next, Tremont to University Circle for example.  But these areas can be better connected by transit to allow for walk/ride opportunities.

Connectivity can be improved in pockets as well.  On the East Side, University Circle, Little Italy and Coventry are stitched together in a thriving enclave of life and culture.  On my side of the River there are Ohio City, Tremont, and Gordon Square in a similar, albeit more vast, situation.

Even Downtown along the Euclid Corridor.  More connection between East 4th and Playhouse Square, and there can be a stretch of activity running from West 6th to around East 24th.

Then connect these pockets.

That is both the challenge we face and the opportunity we can take.

When I read this, two projects came to mind:

1.) East 4th, planned by Ari Maron to be a pedestrian haven based on similar models in Europe.

2.) Public Square, right now in the middle of the car vs. people debate.

Cleveland will never be completely weaned off the car culture, and it doesn’t need to be.  But that should not dictate development.  We need to ask whether spots taken up by semi-filled parking lots can serve a greater purpose.

How can we shift the focus from cars to people?

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