Woonerf-ul, woonerf-ul

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Some linkage related to my most recent Urban Tulsa Weekly column about the innovative, grassroots-driven approach to solving the Pearl District's stormwater problem:

The Pearl District Association website: Well organized website with plenty of information about the neighborhood's plans for the future.

Guy Engineering's page for the Elm Creek Master Drainage Plan, which includes sketches of the proposed 6th St. canal and the west and east ponds. The master plan report itself (linked at the top of that page) goes into great detail about the history of the Elm Creek basin and the evolution of the stormwater management plan over the last 20 years.

Here's the Wikipedia entry for woonerf.

A Brand Avenue blog entry on the history of woonerven, which includes a summary of a study of shared streets by the UK-based Transport Research Laboratory:

Last year, TRL published the results of a four-year study on the new traffic safety approach. In simulator trials, researchers replaced road signs and white lane dividers with a variety of urban design elements: red bricks were used to make the road narrower, and trees, shrubs and street furniture were placed directly in the right of way. According to Parkes, traffic speeds fell by up to 8 miles per hour, and the speeds of faster drivers by up to 12 mph. The reasons are both counterintuitive and compelling, he said. "What we've been trying to do is make the roadway seem more risky by taking out the stripe of paint ... and by making the distinction between space reserved for cars and space for pedestrians less explicit," said Parkes. "Then the driver makes his own choice to slow down, rather than just being instructed to slow down in what looks like a safe environment." Psychological traffic calming has the added advantage of being more aesthetically pleasing than a slew of road signs and traffic lights, Parkes noted.

A New York Observer story about the city's "woonerf deficit" and how shared streets can improve a neighborhood's quality of life and economy.

A New York Times story about woonerfs and other alternative approaches to streets, such as play streets, bicycle boulevards, and swale streets:

One such street is the woonerf. Pioneered in the Netherlands -- the word roughly translates as "living street" -- the woonerf erases the boundary between sidewalk and street to give pedestrians the same clout as cars. Elements like traffic lights, stop signs, lane markings and crossing signals are removed, while the level of the street is raised to the same height as the sidewalk.

A woonerf, which is surfaced with paving blocks to signal a pedestrian-priority zone, is, in effect, an outdoor living room, with furniture to encourage the social use of the street. Surprisingly, it results in drastically slower traffic, since the woonerf is a people-first zone and cars enter it more warily. "The idea is that people shall look each other in the eye and maneuver in respect of each other," Mr. Gehl said.

Nick Roberts from Oklahoma City explains why he likes the 6th St. canal concept better than Oklahoma City's Upper Bricktown Canal:

Here [in the 6th St. concept drawing] the water just compliments the pedestrian path and makes it interesting, provides nice views. Instead the Bricktown Canal has the freeway mentality: the path on the side is kind of like a feeder road while the canal is the main draw. It should be the other way around..in fact I wouldn't be opposed to not doing the water taxis anymore, especially if they should ever stop being profitable. But I am still totally in support of expanding the canal through the downtown area. That probably explains why a lot of the canal-front property has never been finished, despite all the potential.

A related link: A Tulsa TV Memories page about the Brewsters, a couple who owned a beloved toy store in the Pearl District neighborhood.

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2 Comments

Bob said:

Michael:

Wonderful articles about applying creativity to the Pearl District, and the 6th street canal/creek concept.

Unfortunately, the local ruling Plutocrats are NOT going to allow it.

Why?

It doesn't spend ENOUGH of the taxpayer's money.

Expect a Kaiser River Tax II proposal as soon as the economy improves. Or, possibly even before, under the mantra of "It's All About Jobs".

It worked in hoodwinking the voters during Vision 2025.

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

This is something that could change Tulsa in a good way, forever, in my mind. This development isn't something big, its something small, but the impact, the flavor it brings - I think - is quintessential Tulsa, but in a new way. Forget the river.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 22, 2009 11:32 PM.

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