“Summer Streets” Aren’t Enough

New York has them. San Francisco has them. Portland, too. Now St. Louis might be getting its own version of Summer Streets.

Streetsblog Network member St. Louis Urban Workshop is happy with Mayor Francis Slay's proposal to close some of the city's streets to motor vehicles on summer weekends. But the blog calls for more substantive changes that will improve access for pedestrians and cyclists every day of the year:

2748746997_5f9edceb3b.jpgSummer Streets in New York. Photo by Northcountry Boy via Flickr.
The Mayor clearly understands that people, not automobiles, really own the streets in our city, and that closing streets to cars and giving them over to people to enjoy for recreational and social uses makes sense. If this is understood, why not take a step towards doing real, lasting, permanent work to make our streets safer and more inviting to people every day?

[W]hy not open many of the roads in our major parks to pedestrians and cyclists only? There's novelty in closing Lindell for four hours on a Saturday, but there's real utility in making a park more of a park.

Why not address the streets in our city that are particularly uninviting or even dangerous for pedestrians? Kingshighway, Gravois, Chippewa, Market and others have been completely given over to the car. Closing a short stretch of one of these for a few hours will make them no less dangerous when car traffic resumes.

The Urban Workshop has covered this issue on several levels, calling for St. Louis streets to be put on a diet, expressing disgust at streets designed to kill and advocating for pedestrian priority over simple traffic measures for the ongoing South Grand lane reduction test. So, "Summer Streets" is a good idea, but let's not be satisfied with neat, fun and novel, let's make our streets better for pedestrians all the time.

Of course, in New York and San Francisco, Summer Streets have been a precursor to more extensive experiments in truly livable streets. We'll keep an eye on developments in St. Louis.

Another hot topic on the network today is bike safety. How We Drive looks at a study about how bike lanes might encourage motorists to pass cyclists more closely. Biking in LA laments the bad behavior of cyclists who ride without respect for their fellow cyclists or the law, endangering themselves and others. And after a ghost bike memorial in Washington, DC, was removed by police, an artist has responded with 22 ghost bikes. The WashCycle has that story.