Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ready For Change?

Here's a little 5-minute video from last Saturday's PBS NewsHour, talking about the changes New York City made to fix the traffic problems around Times Square. In short, they made the streets less car-centered and more people-centered. It sounds backwards, but it actually improved travel times AND reduced car and pedestrian accidents. The other thing it did that's worth noting is that it improved commerce in the area until Times Square became one of the 6 top shopping districts on the whole planet.

A Better Block project--bikes lanes and pedestrian seating
Everything that was done at Times Square are changes that were suggested by the Better Block consultant who came to Norristown last August. If you don't remember, he suggested temporarily making changes for a weekend to see what would work in downtown Norristown. One thing was painting a bike lane with water-soluble paint (not only to make room for bikes, but brightly-colored bike lanes give a block more interest--people don't just drive through without looking around). Others included making more spaces for people to sit, and actually narrowing lanes of traffic so people and bikes have more room.

Norristown was supposed to stage a Better Block experiment last September, but the Municipality decided we weren't ready for that. "We'll put it off until the spring," they said. Well, spring has come and gone and I guess they think we're STILL not ready.  Just like they decided we weren't ready for bike racks downtown, nor for better signage for our businesses along the Schuylkill River Trail, and a lot of other changes that might have helped Main Street..

Would someone please explain to me what we have to do to become ready? Conshohocken, Phoenixville and West Chester have tried, and permanently adopted, a lot of these changes. I'm getting tired of constantly hearing those communities used as examples of how towns can be brought back from the brink while N-town sits stagnant, waiting for what I suppose must be divine intervention.

Personally, I'M ready for change downtown, and I think a lot of other residents and business owners are, too.

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