Seattle's Bell Street Park Is a Pedestrian Friendly Dream

The newly opened Bell Street Park in Seattle offers the kind of "social friction" Leigh Gallagher called for in Friday's NYT with "planters, perches ... and the simplest but most innovative feature of all, a level plane between sidewalk and street."
Oran Viriyincy / Flickr

Josh Feit provides an update on Bell Street Park, the $5 million pedestrian-friendly project along Bell Street between 1st and 5th avenues. 

"...now, stretching up to 5th, the corridor of planters, perches, mixed car-and-ped zones, zebra crosswalks, a dog park, and the simplest but most innovative feature of all, a level plane between sidewalk and street (no curbs), it's easy to see what a vibrant stretch of downtown this is going to be. (By the way, the perches are made out of the re-purposed, former curbs.)"

Relating the park to a recent New York Times op-ed that advocates for a "social friction" design for city streets, Feit writes: "And here's the argument city leaders should be making for more Bell Street Parks, as they're bound to face opposition from people who don't like the move away from car-centric design to one that accommodates urban density: This isn't a rush into some development dystopia, it's a return to the lazy Seattle of the 1970s, when life moved a bit slower."

"That, in fact, is the whole point of building a street grid that accommodates foot traffic: Creating spaces to linger on the corner (picture food trucks in the extended pedestrian zones, one of the designers at SvR Design told me) and forcing cars to pay attention by creating more entry points for foot traffic, establishes an Andy Griffith Mayberry setting, not an Uma Thurman Gattaca nightmare."

Full Story: Pedestrian Chronicles: Building Bell Street Park

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