Broad Avenue was the place to be last Saturday as more than 10,000 people descended on a Better Block version of this emerging Arts District in Memphis Tennessee. The effort was a true community project with multiple organizations and the City of Memphis collaborating to demonstrate what improved StreetSpace does for economic and community revitalization.
The League of American Bicyclist interviewed Memphis Bikeway/Pedestrian Coordinator Kyle Wagenschutz after the event and he had this to say “The temporary redesign of Broad Avenue is a physical representation of how city streets can be designed as safe places for all road users.” Kyle went on to say, “the ability to experience world-class bicycle facilities and high-quality pedestrian walkways helped over 13,000 people develop a greater sense of clarity about what the vision for Broad Avenue is.”
Many Mid and Southern cities that have had the Auto as their main design element for so long are struggling to define where, when and how to implement complete streets. Better Blocks as demonstrated in Dallas, Memphis, Waco, Oyster Bay and so on… clearly say do it at the block or small corridor level, when neighborhoods outcry for it and are willing partners in the implementation. This is a sure formula for success and long term community ownership of the project. I am confident that the people of Memphis will be experiencing a permanent Better Block on Broad in the near future. That is the power of Better Block. It moves consensus making for complete streets from what has typically been a year or so long planning process to a weekend.
The public outcry demonstrated by the Memphis folks should give the City confidence to move directly into a design-build project and establish a long-term public improvement district to program Broad with events, awareness, promotion and education programs. These places are where the new economy will emerge and how Cities will position themselves for economic recovery. Congratulations again to all the organizers and participants in Memphis. We salute you!
More coverage here: http://www.broadavearts.com/