In the past we’ve looked at ways to transform Canal and Bedford Streets into a vibrant urban boulevard, but today we’re taking a look at a more budget-friendly way to make streets throughout the city–and by extension the neighborhoods around them–better places not just for cars, but for everyone.
Reverting multi-lane one-way streets to two-way
Standing on the corner of Maple and Lowell streets in the heart of Corey Square just east of downtown, it can be easy to forget that streets are built not just for cars, but for users of all sorts–pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Streets aren’t just ways to move traffic; they’re the lifeblood of cities, connecting neighborhoods and providing valuable public space.
Across the country, cities are reverting busy multi-lane one-way thoroughfares like Maple, Beech, Pine and Chestnut streets into calmer, single-lane two-way streets that respect the livability of neighborhoods and enhance the viability of local businesses. The results are almost entirely positive, from fewer vehicle collisions to decreases in crime.
The slower traffic makes the streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as motorists, and it increases the livability and property values of the neighborhoods around them. And while the traffic is slower, there tends to be more of it, which is good for businesses, including the corner stores, shops and restaurants that already dot Maple, Beech, Pine and Chestnut streets.
When a group of people met a week-and-a-half ago at Milly’s Tavern to discuss bicycle infrastructure in Manchester, they had to speak in hypotheticals about the future, because infrastructure for bicyclists–bike lanes, racks, and so on–in the Queen City is essentially nonexistent. When you visit cities from Concord to Portsmouth, Boston to Montreal, Amsterdam to Portland Berlin, Portland, Ore. to Portland, Me., what you’ll find are cities that are expanding their bicycle infrastructure to enable more residents, visitors and workers to get around by bike, whether for recreation, exercise or daily commuting. And by offering people of all skills the opportunity to get around by bike, they’re reducing traffic, improving the health and safety of their residents, and increasing their quality-of-life.
Manchester has been pathetically behind the curve when it comes to bicycling for years now. Despite calls for bike lanes and other bicycling infrastructure in official planning documents like the city’s 2010 master plan and the 2006 Neighborhood Initiatives plan for Rimmon Heights, little if any of it has been accomplished.
The one bright spot has been the work of Manchester Moves, which has built the Piscataquog Trail through the West Side, connecting Goffstown to the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium via the Hands Across the Merrimack bridge, and the South Manchester Trail running from South Beech to Gold Street. The trails are wonderful additions to the city, but because they exist mostly within residential neighborhoods, they remain almost strictly recreational trails. A resident of the West Side riding to work downtown along the trails, for instance, would have to cross no less than seven lanes of busy traffic at Granite Street without any provision for cyclists after crossing the Merrimack. It’s clear then that while they are great assets for the city, the trails on their own are not enough; they need to tie into a network of bike lanes, designated alternate routes for bicyclists, and places to lock up bikes across town. Continue reading If you build it, they will ride→
As part of LivableMHT’s Envisioning series, we’re beginning to look at the Corey Square neighborhood, and specifically the square itself, at the intersection of Maple, Lowell and Nashua Streets. We’ll be looking at how the neighborhood might be enhanced with amenities for pedestrians, bicyclists and hopefully transit users in the future, how the streetscape might be beautified, how to encourage investment in buildings and facade improvements similar to those downtown and in Rimmon Heights, and especially how the square itself might be made friendlier to local residents and visitors, and become the vibrant heart of this diverse neighborhood.
Corey Square, sometimes called Janeville, comprises the area roughly between Union and Ashland Streets to the east and west, and Pearl and Manchester Streets to the north and south. The neighborhood includes the major intersections of Maple and Beech Streets with Hanover and Bridge Streets, as well as such landmarks as the Ash Street School, Central High School, Bronstein Park, and the Boys and Girls Club. It is the smallest city neighborhood by land area, but it is densely populated, fully developed, and extremely walkable. In addition to enjoying close proximity to downtown, NHIA, the City Library and the Currier, Corey Square is located along the two major eastern gateways into the city along Hanover and Bridge Streets. The area once known as Janeville is a warren of narrow, meandering lanes that unlike almost all others in the city center were not built according to a grid of some sort, and the actual square at the center of the neighborhood is located where one of these lanes (Nashua Street) meets the grid at Lowell and Maple Streets.