Make Grand Grand

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
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rxlexi
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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby rxlexi » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:35 am

LOL at going from "Making Grand Grand" to "Making Grand Better".

Still, anything we can do to improve what should really be an impressive street is a positive.

More than anything else, Grand just needs new development to fill in the massive holes up and down it, more street level uses, etc. And this can't be fixed with any amount of planning. Even given the lack of office/commercial momentum downtown, I'm somewhat surprised the lot just north of Sprint Center hasn't seen any n/c proposals yet.

A road diet and pleasant, wide sidewalks with attractive new infrastructure would be a nice start, though.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby kcjak » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:00 pm

Hopefully I was just reading too fast and missed the road diet...I came away with the idea that the only sure change right now is repainting. If road diet is happening, great, but I'd just as soon see any repainting scrapped for the addition of some trees.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby pash » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:41 pm

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flyingember
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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby flyingember » Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:26 pm

apparently the kcata nixed skinnier lanes, said they needed 12 feet for busses. at least that's what the DTC said on twitter

meanwhile they're giving the busses 8 feet for parking, right next to the bike lane

the busses are 8.5 feet wide. (I looked up the specs)

so the busses will block the bike lane

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby DaveKCMO » Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:05 pm

i'm with you all on the 10' travel lane, but this project has been way too long coming and it's still a road diet.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby pash » Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:47 pm

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rxlexi
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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby rxlexi » Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:56 pm

I agree with Pash, particularly re: street trees, although lack of desirable uses is still the biggest problem along Grand.

Grand should be an inviting and vibrant big downtown street, or at least a nice walk, like Walnut and Main to the west. Currently, it serves as a rather major dividing line between the nice new downtown on the west side and the remnants of homeless folks, parking lots, and government function to the east.

Attractive development in the East Village area could begin to remedy this situation, but right now few walk east to west across Grand after 5PM.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby kboish » Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:02 pm

pash wrote:It's a step in the right direction. But it's a really, really small step, so I hope it's not all we're going to get.

I mean, why do we want a "road diet" in the first place? It's not because we spitefully want to confine cars into a smaller space; it's because we want to take space that's presently the exclusive domain of cars and reconfigure it to make the street more broadly useful and pleasant, particularly to people who aren't just zipping through on their way elsewhere. The top priority, given the state of our streets at the moment, should be wider sidewalks and the addition of trees, in my opinion. We're not getting that with this re-striping project.

We are getting bike lanes, and that's great. But bike lanes, at least this check-the-box sort, are a much less significant improvement than wider sidewalks would be. Proper sidewalks, particularly when they're shaded by trees and equipped with street furniture, invite people to walk along them and encourage shops and restaurants to open up to the street. They generally improve the character of the neighborhood for the better. (And I'm someone who bikes around town more than I drive, so I don't think I'm hugely underestimating the relative value of bike lanes.)

And center turn-lanes ... don't get me started.


You're absolutely right about needing wider sidewalks- especially in what are considered pedestrian districts - ie. Downtown, Xroads, Westport, 39th st., MainCor etc. The biggest barrier to people not using sidewalks is the fact that they feel cramped and are full of obstacles (usually). I think downtown/xroads should have this as a major priority...

Its pretty obvious when you visit another city how different it feels walking long distance on wide sidewalks. My friends in town who would bat an eye walking 15-20blocks in another city could never imagine walking from westport to the plaza or even from parts of Xroads to Downtown...its all perception.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby flyingember » Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:08 pm

We need to show the property owners that biking doesn't hurt access. we need to change attitudes so it's not cars vs bus vs train vs bike but that an All Of The Above attitude wins. right now is the time to get people seeing people bike urban.

I figure one can nitpick the lane width, but it's the kind of project that will show people what's possible. and being paint, it can be changed again really easily. it's also the kind of thing that snowballs. When you have it you want it to be bigger because spending a little more makes better use of all the money spent. I'd rather we spend a little and add a bunch of bike lanes today that can be used so that we have the proof we need to improve them, versus waiting forever for perfect

imagine if this line leads to intersecting bike lanes towards Main because of business demand. that's what I want to see.

This is the Show Me State. Sometimes we're stubborn.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby flyingember » Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:18 pm

kboish wrote:walking long distance on wide sidewalks. My friends in town who would bat an eye walking 15-20blocks in another city could never imagine walking from westport to the plaza or even from parts of Xroads to Downtown...its all perception.


I was in downtown Charlotte in July. rode the train from terminus to terminus with my family and two nieces (10 and 5) and then walked to their children's museum downtown.

it was amazing how much it wasn't one thing that mattered to make the walk nice, but all of it added up.

super wide sidewalks to where utility boxes didn't block them
street trees
planters everywhere
public art
info boards
zebra stripe/colored concrete crosswalks
barriers for pedestrian areas for safety
every trash can also had a recycle can.
benches not just at bus stops
bike parking along sidewalks
picnic tables in public spaces with shading

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby DaveKCMO » Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:19 pm

grand doesn't need wider sidewalks IMO. the beauty of this plan is that it can all be accomplished with paint. compare that to the park department's approach that had them spending $100K just on consultants to study making grand grand.

the transformation will come from downtown's first useful bike lane and streamlined bus service, then other improvements can follow once the property owners actually take care of their shit.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby kboish » Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:23 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:grand doesn't need wider sidewalks IMO. the beauty of this plan is that it can all be accomplished with paint. compare that to the park department's approach that had them spending $100K just on consultants to study making grand grand.

the transformation will come from downtown's first useful bike lane and streamlined bus service, then other improvements can follow once the property owners actually take care of their shit.


I will say grand probably is one of the few streets that actually has decent sidewalks (its relative of course)- I think i was going on more of a side rant regarding sidewalk width in general in the downtown area...lots of areas you have to walk singlefile...very uncomfortable to walk with more than one other person from place to place

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rxlexi
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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby rxlexi » Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:40 pm

Grand may or may not need wider sidewalks, but DOES need street trees. True for many places downtown.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby pash » Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:46 pm

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby Demosthenes » Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:07 am

Yea I also feel that sidewalk width is one of the biggest factors listed in making Grand, Grand. Of course, the sidewalk width really isn't too bad right now. As mentioned earlier it is one of the better streets in this regard, though it could still definitely be better. Main Street through Power and Light is a prime example of a terribly narrow sidewalk. The sidewalk outside of Latteland is ridiculous, especially for how much pedestrian traffic this sidewalk receives.

Really though, when it comes down to it, I would say that most of this doesn't matter. I mean it does, but it just isn't really the most important thing right now. For Grand to truly become Grand, the most important thing it needs right now is buildings full of activity. Vacant buildings need to become full, parking lots need to be built upon, and we need tall buildings lining this street. Almost every building needs commercial on the ground floor. Only then will the street aesthetics be truly important. We really need to give people reasons to be on the street first though. There really aren't enough reasons yet.

The YMCA plan is a failure in my eyes, because that building should most definitely be a very tall building and mixed use. Building a low rise, single use structure in such a prominent location is absolutely fucked. These are the kind of things holding Grand back.

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby zachbot » Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:15 pm

Blog post detailing the recent history of planning for Grand and how a buffered bike lane and three lane configuration can be phased from paint only to complete redesign: http://urbanangle.net/long-road-grand-boulevard/

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby pash » Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:06 pm

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby pash » Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:19 pm

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby KCthomas » Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:23 pm

Thanks for taking a look at the concept. You are absolutely correct that curb cuts are awful for bike lanes. Hopefully in time some of those can go away. However, the traffic volume at any particular curb cut is very low compared to the roadway itself, which I think results in a net improvement in perceived and actual safety. More importantly, however, placing a bike lane between traffic and on-street parking, as has been proposed in the Public Works concept, requires buses to cross the bike lanes at each stop. And KCATA has indicated that with relocation of bus service on Grand that could be 1-2 buses per minute per stop. That is a high frequency guaranteed conflict for bikes along the entire corridor. Balanced against a potential conflict at curb cuts (which still exists even if you choose traffic running bike lanes) I think the buffered bike lines are the better choice. (So do our local bike advocacy organizations, by the way.)

With regard to the pedestrian island, the proposed concept shows fifteen feet between the bike lane and where the crosswalk enters the traffic lane. That's as wide as the existing sidewalk, and quite a bit wider than most sidewalks downtown. I don't think we can call that "huddled." On top of that, long term improvements can put actual planters between the pedestrian and traffic, protecting from even the errant motorist.

You are probably right that pedestrians will meander into the bike lanes. The trees, pavement color, and other cues help to define the space physically and visually, but a slight change in curb height would help as well. At a certain level, there is a choice to be made about whether it is safer and more comfortable to mingle bikes with people, or to mingle bikes with cars. The proposed concept goes for the former, and also takes a design choice that bike facilities are one component of a multi-function street that sees other benefits from shared, integrated public space.

What would your preferred design be?

There are additional images of the concept with greater detail here if you didn't see them: http://urbanangle.net/long-road-grand-b ... d-part-22/

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Re: Make Grand Grand

Postby FangKC » Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:41 am

I think the City should employ a long-term design goal to remove as many car entrances along the Grand Boulevard blocks as possible over time as new buildings are developed. Obviously some can't be removed because there are parking garage entrances that already exist. However, as vacant lots are filled, the City should make developers place garage entrances along the east-west streets or on McGee or Walnut, or make them accessible from an existing alley.

Some surface parking lots will go away as Grand is developed with infill, and buildings that take up the entire block or most of it.

There are full, or mostly full-block parcels to be developed where this new design policy can be implemented and not have cars crossing the sidewalk and bike lanes along Grand.

The Grand/McGee/7th and 8th block.
The Grand/McGee/10th and 11th block.
The Grand/McGee/12th and 13th block.
The Grand/McGee/ 16th and 17th block.
The Grand/McGee/19th and 20th block.

Many entrances to existing parking lots on other lots along Grand could be changed to have them enter/exit using the alley.


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