The final better block of 2012 and 3rd in San Antonio, TX occurred this past weekend (Dec. 8th). The City of San Antonio’s City Center Development Office contracted Team Better Block of Dallas alongside the Project for Public Spaces in New York City, which worked together to develop a site plan that narrowed a segment of West Commerce Street from 4 lanes to 3 lanes in order to create a more inviting pedestrian experience. In Full Bloom Creative out of San Antonio transformed a parking lot into a plaza with an outdoor market, street furniture, and landscaping. The goal for the project was to bring to life the West Commerce Street road diet recommendations from the recently completed Downtown Transportation Study and show how the “West Commerce District” could host greater retail outlets as proposed in a recent Study.
The plan was to take West Commerce, a major east-west one-way arterial in Downtown from 4 lanes to 3 lanes with an expanded pedestrian area, better bus stops, cafes, landscaping and a market. Do all of this in a period of three hours of set-up using temporary materials, gauge the reaction, capture data and take down before the sun sets. With a handful of dedicated volunteers we set out.
Speed before 25MPH
Speed after averaged 20 MPH. The experiment worked! The addition of landscaping, on-street parking and wider sidewalks reduced speeds to a safe range. Studies indicate that every MPH under 20 MPH significantly reduces the frequency and severity of traffic accidents. A safer environment for pedestrians and cars means greater viability for retail and cafes.
Click here to view the San Antonio Express write-up on the project including a photo essay. Many thanks to all the wonderful volunteers that made this project a success. San Antonio is truly lucky to have so many people that care of love for their city. This is the last project of the year for Team Better Block. Next year, they’ll be Australia, France, and Canada demonstrating street improvements to international audiences. Next stops in the U. S. are St Paul, MN and Norfolk, VA. Check back soon for more details.