Tac­ti­cal ur­ban­ism launches

Pro­gram al­lows res­i­dents to solve safety prob­lems

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - STACY RYBURN

FAYET­TEVILLE — Res­i­dents who want to take care of their neigh­bor­hood’s im­me­di­ate con­cerns, such as safely cross­ing the street, slow­ing down cars or cre­at­ing bi­cy­cle lanes, now can do so on their own with city ap­proval.

The city rolled out its tac­ti­cal ur­ban­ism pro­gram last week. The prac­tice en­tails us­ing low-cost, tem­po­rary ma­te­ri­als to create traf­fic safety fea­tures or dec­o­ra­tion.

The term is largely at­trib­uted to ur­ban plan­ner Mike Ly­don, whose Street Plans Col­lab­o­ra­tive held a work­shop on the topic for city of­fi­cials in Novem­ber. Sev­eral vol­un­teers put to­gether a cross­walk and bike lane in front of Na­dine Baum Stu­dios, cross­ing from the trail to West Av­enue dur­ing the work­shop.

In Jan­uary, vol­un­teers re­placed the four-way stop at Spring Street and School Av­enue with a round­about that was re­moved in March. City staff con­cluded the round­about eased traf­fic for bi­cy­clists trav­el­ing be­tween the Ra­zor­back Green­way and down­town. How­ever, mo­torists gen­er­ally failed to yield, cre­at­ing po­ten­tially un­safe sit­u­a­tions with pedes­tri­ans.

The lat­est ap­proved project

placed cross­walks and curb ex­ten­sions to Cen­ter Street and Church Av­enue, in front of Ar­saga’s. Michael Ward, a de­vel­oper, said he walks across the in­ter­sec­tion reg­u­larly and has no­ticed prob­lems for pedes­tri­ans. The project is sched­uled to stay there un­til fall.

“There are no cross­walks there. There are wide lanes and a big turn­ing ra­dius for cars,” he said. “Cars tend to roll through the in­ter­sec­tion. Some­times they stop and some­times they don’t. It’s un­clear who re­ally should be walk­ing and who should be driv­ing.”

The city started beta test­ing the pro­gram af­ter get­ting a hand­ful of in­quiries fol­low­ing the Novem­ber work­shop, City En­gi­neer Chris Brown said. Ward’s project was born from that test phase.

An­other ap­proved project will put cross­walks and an ex­tended curb in front of

Yvonne Richard­son Com­mu­nity Cen­ter at Mill Av­enue and Rock Street. The var­ied traf­fic pat­tern of hav­ing a yield sign fac­ing west on Rock Street, no sign on Mill Av­enue and a stop sign fac­ing east on Rock Street even­tu­ally will be re­placed with stop signs go­ing all three ways, ac­cord­ing to Sam Sla­ton with BikeNWA.

Com­mu­nity Cen­ter sum­mer campers will help de­sign the cross­walks. A curb ex­ten­sion on the west side of Mill Av­enue and Rock Street will re­duce a 55-foot turn­ing ra­dius to 20 feet, slow­ing down cars as they move. Vol­un­teers also have asked for a side­walk on the north side of Rock Street lead­ing to the cen­ter.

The cross­walks, curb ex­ten­sion and stop signs will be in­stalled the morn­ing of Aug. 11.

A project has to meet cer­tain cri­te­ria to gain ap­proval. Noth­ing can go on a state high­way. Putting paint on a ma­jor street or pub­lic right of way is iffy. Enough room has to be left for emer­gency ve­hi­cles to ma­neu­ver. Res­i­dents make their own sched­ules and have to buy their own ma­te­ri­als. An on­line guide sug­gests ma­te­ri­als, rang­ing from hand-painted signs to hay bales.

City em­ploy­ees in engi­neer­ing, trans­porta­tion and park­ing, along with po­lice and fire­fight­ers, all will put eyes on a more in­volved pro­posal be­fore its ap­proval or de­nial, Brown said. Sim­ple works like paint­ing the street or a sign likely will get quick ap­proval.

Once the project is in­stalled and its ap­proved time frame ends, three out­comes are pos­si­ble. It may turn out the idea didn’t re­ally work and it won’t re­turn. Or, if it’s a sim­ple job, the res­i­dents can keep it go­ing with reg­u­lar main­te­nance. Lastly, if the project suc­ceeds and gar­ners pos­i­tive feed­back, it may make the city’s work list and re-emerge with per­ma­nent ma­te­ri­als.

“It’s a good way to test out things that may seem a lit­tle out there,” Brown said. “But, if they work, and they don’t cause a prob­lem, maybe we’ll im­ple­ment them.”

Any­one hav­ing trou­ble

“I would en­cour­age ev­ery­one to ex­am­ine what they think could im­prove their own neigh­bor­hood and put in an ap­pli­ca­tion. Worst-case sce­nario is it gets de­nied and you go talk with staff about how to get it ap­proved.”

— Michael Ward, a de­vel­oper

de­sign­ing a site plan or who oth­er­wise has ques­tions can call the city’s Engi­neer­ing Di­vi­sion for help.

The process seems sim­ple enough so that any res­i­dent could put to­gether a pro­posal and get some­thing ap­proved, Ward said. It also goes a long way in com­mu­nity-build­ing, he said.

“I would en­cour­age ev­ery­one to ex­am­ine what they think could im­prove their own neigh­bor­hood and put in an ap­pli­ca­tion,” he said. “Worst-case sce­nario is it gets de­nied and you go talk with staff about how to get it ap­proved.”

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER

Vol­un­teers work Sun­day at paint­ing new cross­walk and curb ex­ten­sions at the Church Av­enue in­ter­sec­tion with Cen­ter Street. Fayet­teville has of­fi­cially launched its Tac­ti­cal Ur­ban­ism pro­gram where res­i­dents can put to­gether a plan to build a cross­walk or bike lane or dec­o­ra­tive plants or non­per­ma­nent road bar­rier of some kind and sub­mit it to the city.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER

Michael Ward of Fayet­teville paints a new cross­walk and curb ex­ten­sions at the Church Av­enue in­ter­sec­tion with Cen­ter Street.

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