WHAT IF... WE COULD WALK ACROSS THE ATLANTIC AVE. BRIDGE?

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Connection: It's what we all crave. To walk to a friend's house, to bike to the lively neighborhood right over there, a stone's throw away, just over the railroad tracks, but too often, we "can't get there from here." There are certain key connections in Raleigh where the plaque has built up, where we suffer from  a kind of urban "angina." The Atlantic Ave. Bridge is such a place.

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For bikers and walkers, it is the bottleneck that separates Mordecai from Five Points, and downtown from the emerging retail and restaurant hubs blossoming north of the railroad tracks.

How nice it would be able to bike to Big Boss for a beer,

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to the Hummingbird Cafe for a coffee, to the Loading Dock for a meeting, 

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onto the greenway on a Sunday afternoon,

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up Whitaker Mill to Five Points for lunch or a movie,

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to the Ritz for a concert, or to the renovated Peden Steel warehouses for shopping in the future....

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It's exciting to see these new uses of old warehouses,

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to see people spilling outside, playing cornhole, eating together at picnic tables, with children playing nearby. A unique district of Raleigh is emerging here, in area that was once neglected.

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If we want a safe walkable city, with people exploring neighborhoods and businesses on foot, meeting each other along the way, we have to make it not only possible, but inviting. 

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We need to make  the Atlantic Ave. Bridge accessible without a car,  and to extend that walkability north along Atlantic Avenue as well.  Too often I've seen people take their lives in their hands navigating the walk from Dock 1053 to Big Boss Brewery.

My husband loved his daily bike ride to work downtown, but his new office is on Bush Street. It is a mere 3 miles away,  but he'd have to cross the dreaded bridge and bike down this road. He drives instead and comes home grumpier.  

There are a few places in town where the need for surgery is so obvious, where the chance to open up enormous possibilities is so clear, that it's a no-brainer. This is one of them. Let's unclog this artery and let the life blood of the city flow freely through!

NOTE: PLEASE TAKE A FEW SECONDS TO LET THE NCDOT KNOW THAT  THIS PROJECT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU. THEY ARE SOLICITING PUBLIC VOTES VIA THIS ONLINE SURVEY ONLY THROUGH JULY 9th, 2018.

 

 

 

WHAT IF... WE WROTE A CITY-LONG SENTENCE WITH CROSSWALKS?

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Person and Blount are Raleigh's longest continuous north-south streets. A literal cross-section of the city, they were part of Raleigh's original grid of streets. After years of grid-butchering, these two are among the few that have survived, connecting a wide range of neighborhoods from north to south.

What if we celebrated this with a series of crosswalks, creating a city-long sentence along Person Street, spanning all the neighborhoods it passed through?

Each neighborhood could add to the sentence, expressing who they are, or what's happening at that  intersection.  It might start out at Franklin Street like this:

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Words could give identity to the street and surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.

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Neighbors would agree on what words to paint,

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perhaps "TACOS" near Gringo-A-Go-Go, or "DINING,"

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highlighting Moore Square Park,

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Shaw University, and more....

It could grow and change over time, painting over old words with new ones, maybe new colors. It's simple street paint, easy and quick to put down or change. 

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An evolving community-written sentence, it would highlight how we value walking and friendly pedestrian streets, weaving a common thread to follow through the diverse neighborhoods of Raleigh.

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And it would be fun to do! Neighbors and business owners coming together to express a shared identity in a word or two.  

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In cities all over,  communities are coming out to co-paint  streets like this.

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The idea might spread to other parts of the city.     Share if you're interested, and let us know what you think!  

 

WHAT IF... DOWNTOWN HAD A BASKETBALL CAGE?

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Wow. What a surprise! A basketball game in the middle of downtown, at the corner of Davie and Fayetteville Streets. What a show!  Bodies were flying, passions were heated, skillful moves were made, in this  street ballet of ball. A big crowd gathered to watch. I'd never seen such group energy on Fayetteville St. before. 

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Anyone who has seen the West 4th Street "Cage" knows what a powerful magnet street basketball can be. The Cage attracts a whole range of onlookers, dedicated followers, and players. The pickup court is a place of diversity,  a level playing field where barriers and judgments drop away in pursuit of the game. It is the rare place where people from vastly different neighborhoods and backgrounds come together and play. 

Lions Park and Halifax court used to be such a place. I've heard great stories from neighborhood kids about the people they met and played with there, people of all ages, races, and income levels. At all times of day and night, my sons and their friends went there to pick up games with whomever showed up. The bonds they made on that court broadened their experience of Raleigh beyond just the kids they met at school.

Why can't downtown Raleigh have a street "Basketball Cage?" It could be an underused lot waiting for development or a parking lot by day and a basketball court by night. It doesn't have to be fancy or permanent. Two hoops and a ball is all you need, easily moved if the lot's use changes. 

Downtown can offer more than just eating and drinking. How awesome to stumble upon a passionate street performance like basketball, to witness an elegant layup or skillful pass. It is a stage for players to show off their skills, where people from all of Raleigh's diverse neighborhoods can come together to play, and most importantly, it happens on the street, in the middle of downtown, where passers-by can walk by, stop, and watch, not inside a far-off recreational building you have to drive to.

Have an interest in street ball or an idea about where it might happen? Let us know! Contact us at: tina@somosdesign.us or call/text: 919-641-0791.