Case Study 2: Hyattsville

In my last post, I went on quite a bit about connections between communities and effective wayfinding networks. There’s a really great illustration of these points just south of the UMCP campus in the City of Hyattsville.

IMG_2394The wayfinding network is great. In many ways, it’s an exemplar of what these networks should be in suburban environments. Intersections are signposted to eliminate navigational confusion; signs lead naturally to other signs like bread crumbs; routes take the path of least stress around hills and busy streets; signs note linkages to other major routes; directions to transit links, like Metro stations, include their unique logotypes; signs are visible and frequent enough to clearly communicate the message that, if you are walking or riding, these streets and sidewalks are for you and that cars should expect your presence. Continue reading

Case Study 1: The University of Maryland, College Park

“The barriers formed…may indeed keep out extraneous people with sufficient effectiveness. If so, the price will be hostility from the surrounding city and an ever more beleaguered feeling within the fort.”
—Jane Jacobs, describing the University of Chicago, in 
The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 10.38.19 AMIn many ways, the University of Maryland (UMCP) functions as a city in its own right, rather than simply a part of the City of College Park. From a transit perspective, it runs one of the most extensive bus networks in northern Prince George’s County, hosts events that can disrupt traffic on state, federal, and interstate highways, and occupies a crucial place near the intersection of several major commuter bike routes. Within the limits of the main university campus, the Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) manages infrastructure for private autos (and their parking), bus and shuttle networks, pedestrians, and cyclists. Continue reading

2: Retrofitting Suburbia

  The key, I think, to making infrastructure work out in the ‘burbs is less to try and copy what worked in the core, but rather to take advantage of what already exists. It’s a key concept behind Dunham-Jones and Williamson’s Retrofitting Suburbiarather than raze and rebuild, find ways to adapt and work with what already exists.

So what do we have to work with out where the sidewalk ends? Calm, suburban streets. Existing recreational trails along rivers, old rail grades, and parkland. People who already walk or ride bikes somewhere other than their neighborhoods. People who already walk or ride in their neighborhoods, but become invisible people in a car-centric environment. In the best of cases, small, local civic governments that respond to the needs of their citizens. That’s more than a bit, come to think of it. Continue reading

1: Trouble in the Suburbs

IMG_2917Oh, what the hey, accidental biketransitblogger, I swear I’ll get back to talking about philosophy one of these days..

We’ve pretty well established in previous episodes that, yes indeedly, bike transit is possible in suburbia. It’s where many of us learned how to ride bikes as kids, after all, and where many of us who continue to ride live. So why do so many people look at me like I’m nuts whenever I gush about the transit network out here in suburban Prince George’s, where you absolutely must have a car to get anywhere, right?

Here’s the thing. Suburban bike infrastructure needs to use a different approach than we’d use in an urban core. The built environments are different, approaches to navigation and engineering are different, and, oftentimes, even the terrain and ecosystems are different than what you’d find downtown. Continue reading