Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News
“When we build our landscape around places to go, we lose places to be,” stated Rick Cole, City Manager of Santa Monica, CA.
Reimagine a street… not just for cars and other motorized vehicles, but as a place for people to be — a place where people want to walk, ride, work, socialize AND drive. That’s the goal of two upcoming “Complete Streets” Demonstration Days: to help us reimagine two street segments and temporarily transform them into safe (and fun!) public places for all users.
One event will be on Marlboro Street in Keene on September 19th and the other on Main Street in Swanzey on August 29th. Both events are hosted by the Southwest Region Planning Commission, in partnership with Healthy Monadnock and the Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation.
“So much can be done to make streets places where people feel comfortable spending time,” says Mari Brunner, Planning Technician at the Southwest Region Planning Commission. “The goal of the Complete Streets Demonstration Days is to change how we think about streets; less of a conduit and more of a place.”
Complete Streets are roads designed and maintained for all, while maximizing safety, economic development, quality of life, environment and public health. “If you design communities for automobiles, you get more automobiles. If you design them for people, you get walkable, livable communities,” said Parris Glendening, Founder and President, Smart Growth Leadership Institute.
What will the transformed streets look like? That’s still being decided at planning meetings, but will likely include outdoor seating, bike lanes, more crosswalks, extended sidewalks, food trucks, pop-up retail stores, parklets (seating areas set up in curbside parking spaces) and creative uses of space such as a miniature golf course.
These Demonstration Days will allow you to test out the transformation of these streets and give your feedback for what you’d like to see incorporated into future projects that permanently transform some of our roads into Complete Streets.
Studies indicate that Complete Streets can boost local economies by increasing residential property values (homeowners are willing to pay more to live in walkable, bikable communities) and retail sales (businesses located along Complete Streets often see an increase in sales).
Complete Streets also strengthen the health of individuals and whole communities by providing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as safe crossings, sidewalks or on-road bicycle lanes that improve safety and reduce crashes. They also promote public health by making it safe and convenient for children and families to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives — contributing to the goal of Healthy Monadnock to make our community the healthiest in the nation by 2020.
In 2011, the City of Keene passed a resolution to adopt a Complete Streets Policy in 2011. An enthusiastic turnout to reimagine parts of Marlboro Street in Keene and Main Street in Swanzey will underscore our community’s strong continued support for this work, boost the implementation of Keene’s policy and, hopefully, inspire Swanzey and other towns in the Monadnock Region to adopt and implement Complete Streets policies.
Organizations, businesses and individuals interested in participating in these events — by offering an activity, lending supplies or volunteering — are encouraged to attend the next Complete Streets Demonstration Days Planning meeting on August 4th at 6 p.m. at the upper level conference room at the Hannah Grimes Center, 25 Roxbury Street in Keene. For more information contact Mari Brunner at 603-357-0557 or visit www.monadnocktma.org/demodays/.