Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Trailnet Helps St. Louis Residents See Community in New Light

By Christian Johnson
Imagine a way to make drivers more cautious of their surroundings, a way to make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, a way to promote physical activity in communities. Ideal, right? Turns out the ideal is a simple Livable or Complete Streets solution: traffic calming.  Just like the name implies, traffic calming is the act of making physical designs, such as narrowed roads and speed bumps, in hopes of slowing down cars and easing traffic congestion. These measures can not only make drivers more aware of their surroundings, and improve the safety of neighborhood streets and roads, but also make them more pleasant, too.

For one day in St. Louis, however, local residents didn’t have to imagine these changes; they lived it. The Healthy Eating Active Living Partnership, Trailnet, Saint Louis University students, and elected city officials teamed up with the residents of three Saint Louis communities for pop up demonstrations of traffic calming. Watch a short video of the pop-up demos in action

“The purpose of this project is really to help people in St. Louis understand what traffic calming is, and how we could redesign streets to be more welcoming of activity to get people out walking, biking, and enjoying public space,” said Trailnet Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Manager, Marielle Brown in the video.

Trailnet leaders worked with community residents of all ages on the temporary enhancement of neighborhood streets, helping fill streets with vibrantly colored tires, traffic cones, and a variety of plants in high traffic areas. On a mission to not only beautify these neighborhoods, but also narrow roads to help manage the speeds of drivers, and the demonstration aimed to reduce the flow of heavy traffic in these communities while showcasing the positive effects that traffic calming can have.

Community members responded positively to these traffic calming demos, realizing that in addition to improving street safety for children and all pedestrians, there were more options for physical activity, too.

While the demonstrations were only for one day, community members were able to see the possibilities and discuss potential next steps. Gateway Greening Garden Program Director Hannah Reinhart shared she hopes the demonstrations help open the minds of people to what could be possible exposing them to new urban design layouts that could lead to actual changes in their communities.

Is your town interested in bringing a traffic calming demo to a particular neighborhood or intersection? Contact Trailnet for more details.