What if we could knit the Tyler Park and Germantown together, making walking between them an easy, pleasant experience?
Here is a proposal to improve a little valley's transportation, on the borders of the Highlands and Germantown.
There are two main segments:
The existing sidewalk is narrow, perforated with utility poles, and unbuffered next to a busy motoring lane. Worst of all, it's on the wrong side of the street from the park, with no good crossings!
New sidewalk is expensive (~$100/foot), and the city's Right of Way is also on the wrong side of the street to access the park.
The wide three-lane road is a resource. Convert the north lane of Castlewood into a walking area. Mark it off with poles and paint at first, and landscaping someday. This does not create a new bottleneck, as a retaining wall collapse near Baxter has already permanently narrowed the road to 2 lanes there. Castlewood loses one of its inexplicable two westbound lanes, and gains a genteel and stately walkway to the park.
To move the fast moving motorized traffic away from the sidewalk, we propose using a "road diet", refactoring the street into a 3-lane version of itself. Carrying capacity is again not impacted, becuase the street narrows to two lanes immediately south anyway.
Wikipedia notes that "road diets can be expected to reduce overall crash frequency by 19% to 43%", there you can also find a number of arguments for or against them. Their advantages here are:
However, if there are technical issues with the road diet, the bike transportation component is the most expendable one, and it could be converted into a narrower paved shoulder or something. Just give those sidewalks a buffer. It could be as simple as providing space on the roadway for trash cans and recycling containers, which currently block sidewalk access for wheelchair users during much of the week.
Currently Barrett has a six foot sidewalk with a narrow travel lane immediately adjacent. Many days of the week, trash cans make the sidewalk a single-file experience, or downright impassible to people in wheelchairs.
The two segments together provide much better connectivity, linking residents of Barret, Goddard, Rosewood, Bates Court, Ellison, Rufer, Crown, Julia, Castlewood Ave, and Castlewood Dell to Tyler Park.
For residents of Tyler Park Neighborhood, it forges a new walking path to the increasingly attractive retail at Barret and Oak: Lynn's Paradise Cafe, Monkey Wrench, The Fish House, Cafe Beignet, Nitty Gritty, Spier Ace Hardware, Artist & Craftsmen Supply, the liquor store and a couple of antique shops. On a personal note, the author almost never walks to these destinations, but walks much further to Bardstown Road retail a couple times a week. The reason is the difference in quality of sidewalks leading that direction.
In this valley, this plan can create a whole new watershed for walkers. With more quality opportunities to walk, people will walk more, enjoy our beautiful neighborhoods, meet their neighbors, and build a stronger community.