A ROAD REIMAGINED FOR PEOPLE: Placemaking on An Arterial
When space is given up to cars, sometimes you don't even know what you are missing.
If you have ever heard of the Rowena Road Diet, you might have heard that it was "ruining the neighborhood" by removing travel lanes that supposedly rightfully belonged to cars. But after a multi-decade fight over whether a neighborhood arterial should be a safe place to walk, the Rowena Road Diet was finally implemented and successfully defended against years of challenges.
Through community organizing, gathering and publishing safety data and research, documenting personal stories, photographing the many, many energized children who love to walk, bike and scoot to school, accurately documenting histories of public meetings and road changes, and engaging with local politicians and city officials, a group of activists saved the neighborhood by helping make sure Rowena became and stayed neighborhoody.
With a safer, more inviting road configuration, active transportation to school increased by 50%, new businesses opened, and street life was reinvigorated. And in all of this, with slower speeds, the throughput of vehicles actually increased - this is a common phenomena, as road capacity increases when speeds decline. But more importantly, safety for all road users increased, and Rowena took a giant step towards becoming more of a place, rather than just a thoroughfare.