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Old 02-26-2014, 08:58 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,617,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Isn't all of downtown a high pedestrian area? Well, actually, the streets I referenced ARE NOT as pedestrian-heavy as some others. To put it diplomatically, you have a severe knowledge deficit in the area you are trying to discuss.
Care to explain what you mean by severe knowledge deficit in the area I am trying to discuss? This is an urban planning forum and I do know a lot about urban planning, so your statement doesn't make any sense.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:00 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
15mph would be too slow for much of my downtown. Plenty of blocks with no foot traffic.
That raises the question, why is there low foot traffic in your downtown and how do you correct that?
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:07 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
45,993 posts, read 42,140,379 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
Care to explain what you mean by severe knowledge deficit in the area I am trying to discuss? This is an urban planning forum and I do know a lot about urban planning, so your statement doesn't make any sense.
Maybe adding streetviews of the areas discussed would be helpful? Downtowns vary, especially once we get as specific. Might be easier to have a real discussion with actual substance. I haven't been to either Denver or Oakland, and probably many others here haven't.

Also, the change Portland streetlight timing to 25 mph from 12.5 mph got little support on the Portland forum, though closing every other street to cars didn't help. But it sounded like the locals are fine with the slow speed as is. The proposal sounded like a solution in search of a problem, by an outsider doesn't live there.

If you don't know how to link to streetview, ask.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,093 posts, read 102,844,640 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
Care to explain what you mean by severe knowledge deficit in the area I am trying to discuss? This is an urban planning forum and I do know a lot about urban planning, so your statement doesn't make any sense.
You are not familiar with Colfax Avenue and Speer Boulevard, obviously. I tried to explain that these streets are not in the heart of downtown.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Maybe adding streetviews of the areas discussed would be helpful? Downtowns vary, especially once we get as specific. Might be easier to have a real discussion with actual substance. I haven't been to either Denver or Oakland, and probably many others here haven't.

Also, the change Portland streetlight timing to 25 mph from 12.5 mph got little support on the Portland forum, though closing every other street to cars didn't help. But it sounded like the locals are fine with the slow speed as is. The proposal sounded like a solution in search of a problem, by an outsider doesn't live there.

If you don't know how to link to streetview, ask.
I thought of posting such, but I thought my descriptions were adequate.

ETA: Colfax and Speer:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/W+...2722e358809834

Last edited by Katarina Witt; 02-26-2014 at 09:33 AM..
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
You are not familiar with Colfax Avenue and Speer Boulevard, obviously. I tried to explain that these streets are not in the heart of downtown.



I thought of posting such, but I thought my descriptions were adequate.
Then those two streets are probably not the ones I am referring to when I say high pedestrian areas should have lower speed limits. Colfax and Speer are the types of roads that should have the higher speed limits for those trying to get through the downtown area. Streets like Blake, Market, Lawrence, Curtis, and etc should be slower speed limit streets because they tend to have a higher amount of pedestrians because they are downtown streets.

The only part of Colfax that should be slower speed limits is where it goes past the city hall and Capitol building.
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,768,960 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
That raises the question, why is there low foot traffic in your downtown and how do you correct that?
Without getting into a huge Oakland history lesson. I’ll summarize it in a few sentences:

1. There historically hasn’t been much residential in downtown Oakland. The original housing was at on the lake side, which is about 6-8 blocks from the main thoroughfare of downtown
2. Downtown Oakland was largely abandoned due to white flight, general decline of downtowns in the US, redlining, the whole “fear of black people and race wars,” the elimination of manufacturing and other high wage blue collar jobs, economic crash (in the 80s.). By the late 70s, most of the department stores had closed with the rise of the malls and consolidation. The last department store open in downtown Oakland closed up in the 80s, when it was acquired by Macys. And the final punch was the 89 earth quake which damaged a bung of the historic buildings downtown.

In the mid 90s (which is when I happened to move back to the Bay Area) development started picking up in downtown Oakland, a new Federal Office building opened, a huge development called City Center with class A space (Clorox opened its HQ there) and a few other top their developments. In the late 90s/early 2000s, the then-mayor, Jerry Brown, worked on an initiative to add 10000 residents to downtown. And that continued the growth and it has picked up a lot. But our downtown isn’t a 7 day a week place. Chinatwon is always packed, and there are pockets of nightlife and restaurants in different corners, but we still don’t have much retail. There is an awful Sears (in a great building, but we all know how many challenges they are having). And there are a few boutiques. That is about it.

The downtown that reminds me most of Oakland is actually LA. We are on a fairly similar trajectory (although of course LA has a much larger downtown). Good bones, when the march to the suburbs happened the great old buildings were left in tact, and now people are starting to move in so it is a hip neighborhood. The building stock of Oakland and LA is actually very very similar.

So to sum it up, downtown Oakland is pretty quiet on weekend morning/afternoon. And then picks up during the night. During the week it is a pretty busy office district, but we aren’t the main employment center in our region. Downtown is an excellent transit hub.

One benefit of the surprisingly quiet downtown, it is excellent to bike through, particularly on the weekend. There are so many streets that are only office buildings or have parking garages that are closed on the weekend, although the main street is too busy and scary for a novice like me to bike, most of the other streets are quiet enough (many are one way) that you can find a quiet parallel route.

But don’t let the not very pedestrian optimized downtown fool you, Oakland has a bunch of pedestrian friendly business districts (main street like) that are thriving. I live within about 1.5 miles of 3 of them, and they are all only 2-3 miles from downtown. Each has tons of restaurants, bars, boutiques etc with around 50-80 places depending on the neighborhood. Oakland doesn’t have much in the way of big box stored, but tons or independent retail (that has been in business for a long time)

Separately, downtown is improving a lot. When I first came back to the bay in the mid 90s, downtown Oakland was a complete ghost town. They’ve created a transit center, we have monthly first friday art gallery openings that draw about 10k people in the winter and 20-25k people during the spring and summer. The surrounding blocks went from about a 40-45% vacancy rate 2 years ago to 12% now. About 5-10 new businesses open per month downtown, though most are bars and restaurants at the moment. There is high plan to get in more retail soon too. (Whole Foods opened downtown about 5 years ago, and is doing very well). Rumor has it Target is looking for a spot downtown too. And there is a lot of development on the table. The biggest issue is that the pockets of development are disconnected. There are 2-4 block busy sections here and there. And they are separated by 3-5 blocks that have not much going on. So getting things to fill in and connect would be huge.

This post ended up being really long, but I'd say that in order to invigorate downtowns, it needs to be both organic as well as planned/sponsored by the city. You also don't want your city to sell its soul to big developers only. Also, you need to work with what you have, that is unique. Oakland happens to be hitting the right trends now. Good transit. Good old and unique buildings (some need some TLC). "Affordable" compared to other places in the greater bay area. Central location. Lots of older, walkable neighborhoods that were designed around streetcars. Hits a lot of the hot buttons right now.
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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That is good to hear Oakland is moving in the right direction. I would think downtown would be a good spot for pushing for new residential buildings that are close to transit if the downtown is becoming more of a transit hub.

Thanks for the little history recap of the area, I don't know much about Oakland.
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,768,960 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
That is good to hear Oakland is moving in the right direction. I would think downtown would be a good spot for pushing for new residential buildings that are close to transit if the downtown is becoming more of a transit hub.

Thanks for the little history recap of the area, I don't know much about Oakland.
The funny thing is, Oakland has been a transit hub for awhile. Like a passthrough, instead of the destination. :P Now it is the destination. Also, most of the neighborhoods around downtown are pretty dense. So it is a matter of connecting the dots. For example, I live about 1 mile from the "uptown" part of downtown (the new hip district at the north end). My neighborhoods density is about 15k, and the one right below me, which oddly doesn't have much transit to downtown (it is about 1/2 to 1 mile away), is about 20k density. The zone between downtown and the next commercial district is tagged for redevelopment and potentially a streetcar, but it is coming along a little slowly. But there is a lot of good opportunity. We have reasonably good bike infrastructure, and lots more people biking. Transit ridership is pretty high as well. So give it 10 years and it'l all come together.

God article about downtown progress from a couple of weeks ago.
Re-Occupy Oakland - Oakland Magazine - January-February 2014 - Oakland, California

If you come to the Bay Area, definitely visit. There is a bunch of cool architecture in Oakland. Lots of Art Deco, including restored (or in use) theaters: Fox, Paramount, Grand Lake, and Piedmont all come to mind. Grand Lake and Piedmont do live organ shows before the movie. The Fox and the Paramount are mostly concert venues. And the food/bar scene is excellent. (and there is also an urban wine scene and brewery scene too). Other buildings from downtown are 1920s era, like the city hall...

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Old 02-26-2014, 12:58 PM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,870,923 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post

Also, the change Portland streetlight timing to 25 mph from 12.5 mph got little support on the Portland forum, though closing every other street to cars didn't help. But it sounded like the locals are fine with the slow speed as is. The proposal sounded like a solution in search of a problem, by an outsider doesn't live there.
Not surprising depending on the amount of traffic you might not be able to hit 25MPH at busy times but closing every other street off would hurt. It would pile more traffic on to some roads and increase the walking distance to others and possibly harm retail.

As for slow traffic limits downtown, they make no sense. There are pedestrians all over a city that need to cross the road, it isn't the number of pedestrians that is the problem or the speed of the cars. What is needed is stop signs or traffic signals on larger roads and pedestrians should wait for the cars to come to an stop before crossing the road.

Without stop signs and traffic signals on large busy road drivers may not see a pedestrian waiting to cross. If pedestrians don't wait to till cars have come to an complete stop, then again danger(The driver may not have noticed you) or The car simply does not have enough distance to stop. Where I live people running for the bus are the pedestrians more likely to get hit.
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Old 02-26-2014, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Philaburbia
32,448 posts, read 60,018,032 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
That assumes drivers stop at the crosswalk.
Contrary to popular belief, most drivers do stop when the light is red.
Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
There is no reason to have high speeds in high pedestrian areas.
25 mph is not a "high speed."
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