The Beanstalk Children’s Garden- This Kansas City, Missouri garden encourages visitors to use all of their senses to explore the plants. The garden paths are wheelchair accessible, and plants are labeled. A number of themed gardens teach children about everything from insects to nutrition.
Birmingham City Council in the UK has used a similar concept termed Place and Link4. The publication Birmingham Connected classifies the entire street network in terms of Link and Place functions to determine appropriate street space allocation and design solutions for different contexts. These principles have been adopted by the Mayor of London’s Roads Task Force, which has led to refined analysis and planning for investment as compared to the previous analysis based on a traditional road user hierarchy model. Boroughs are required to use the new ‘street family’ classification in all new street funding submissions.
Integrating place and mobility function requires retrofitting or rebuilding arterials. Cervero calls freeways ‘grade-separated’ structures, from an era when high priority was given to efficient automobile movements. This priority resulted in multi-level freeways with negative consequences for residents, such as barriers, visual blight, noise, and air pollution. Faith in multi-level freeways has waned now, as cities grapple with traffic jams and a polluting environment. With all the issues associated with these massive structures, many cities have opted for at-grade facilities following the deconstruction of freeways. The infrastructure involves creating more human-scale facilities with improved transit, landscaped urban parks, attractive boulevards, and new public spaces, including quality pedestrian and bikeway facilities.
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The deconstruction of the Central Freeway and its transformation into Octavia Boulevard in San Francisco has been supported by the Hayes Valley citizen activists. The freeway was initially planned as part of an ambitious spiderweb of freeways through San Francisco, but the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake made it unsafe. Deconstructing and reconfiguring the freeway into a multi-modal arterial resulted in new parks, housing, commercial space, and community markets. The main challenge was to accommodate new buildings along the eastern side of the boulevard while still maintaining width requirements for multi-modal lanes. Lane-width compromise between urban designers, engineers, and the Fire Department resulted in central lanes, access lanes, and parking lanes being 11 feet, 10 feet, and 8 feet, respectively. Clever placement of median trees near the central roadway and the provision of a mountable curb along the access roadway side of the median meant that a fire engine could enter the access road with one wheel on the median. Another design issue around boulevard termination at Fell Street, to allow for the through traffic to turn west, was resolved by inserting a small neighborhood park within the boulevard’s right of way. This open space has become the local community hub and demonstrates an effective way of complementing local-level use with a city-scale infrastructure.
Intense collaboration occurred with residents, especially the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, though the use of physical models and video simulations. Neighborhood associations agreed to advocate planning design that would reduce traffic fatalities and injuries, lead to zero congestion, and replace liquor stores and mechanics shops with trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques. The positive outcomes of Octavia Boulevard have been significant increases in jobs and property values as well as a 75 percent increase in transit trips.
Source: Plan adapted from Building a boulevard by E. Macdonald, 2006, Berkeley, USA: University of California Transport Center. Copyright by UCTC, USA. Picture by R. Tiwari. Image Adapted from Google Maps by Google, 2015.