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.
Recently, the Boston Globeran a piece about the perception of city neighborhoods by average people. Using an online mapping software, they asked people to draw the boundaries of the city’s famous (and not-so-famous) neighborhoods. What they found was that popular perception of what made up, say, the South End differed somewhat from what the City officially defined the neighborhood boundaries as, not to mention how real estate agents stretched the boundaries into lesser-known nearby areas.
That last bit is something that Fortress Manchester looked at with the desirable North End in Manchester. According to the planning department’s map of city neighborhoods, the North End starts at Salmon Street, but depending on whom you ask, the North End can extend as far south as Bridge Street or be cut off at Webster Street. Unlike the set lines of cities or even the river between the West Side and Downtown, most neighborhood boundaries are fuzzy. Some areas seem like they’re not even part of a neighborhood at all.
Bicycles in New Hampshire are given the same rights and responsibilities as cars with a few exceptions, so almost anywhere a driver can go, a bicyclists should be able to as well. LivableMHT hasn’t seen the bridge under construction, so this is speculation, but given that the deck is being replaced and probably exposed, it seems likely that the Highway Division is restricting bicycle access for safety reasons. If a lane is paved, however, bicyclists should be able to make use of it as any motor vehicle can.