Exit133 is about Tacoma
Imagine Tacoma: Tacoma Walkability (a contradiction in terms?)
One of the general policies of the City of Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan and the Destination Downtown Zoning Code (c. 2000) is that “On-going programs and funding priorities should ensure that downtown streets and sidewalks are clean, safe, well lighted and attractive.” So walking around a bit of Downtown this past week with Dan Burden – one of the deans of urban design streetscapes – and after hearing his presentation on Monday evening, what was his general impression of Tacoma’s current walkability? Well the bones of the city are still here for a good pedestrian system BUT there is an awful lot of work to do.
And so Dan, what is the quickest first step in improving walkability given our existing conditions. “Paint” he said. It is cheap and it can be done quickly (say before Tall Ships, eh?).
What a concept to quickly improve the walkability of the entire City. Painted crosswalks, painted vehicle stop line, painted angled stalls for back-in parking. Why is it we can repaint the Daffodil Parade flowers on Pacific Avenue on a more regular basis than our crosswalks that are used by pedestrians every single day?
But Dan, what about the prevailing theory within Public Works Departments that painted crosswalks are actually more dangerous than unpainted ones (because of the fear that pedestrians will get a false sense of security in a well-defined crosswalk)? “Baloney” he said. That is a fear based on the inaccurate interpretation of a 7-year traffic study commissioned by the City of San Diego and not applicable to the type of streets we have in Downtown Tacoma. They need to move on and start designing good crosswalks.
So – Imagine Tacoma goes a wee bit pedestrian and looks at some improvements with ‘Paint on the Street.’ Why wait for expensive LID improvement when we can start painting our way to improved walkability immediately?
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