A visit to Tallinn reinforces the need for safe, walkable streets in downtown New Albany.


We just returned from a week in Tallinn, Estonia. During peak times, traffic is heavy in the downtown area, and it’s obvious that the country’s relatively recent affluence is being manifested by the “dream” of auto ownership.

That said, public transportation is pervasive, and walkers are numerous, even outside the dense, medieval old town, where cars are almost non-existent. While there were fewer bicycles than I’d expected, it was an amazing experience to learn that where a crosswalk is designated by striping, drivers yield to walkers without flashing lights and signage to command them.

Evidently they’ll be held responsible if they don’t. What a concept!

At several tram stops in downtown Estonia, the doors open directly into a street with moving traffic — and again, drivers yield to those exiting the tram.

The lesson for New Albany isn’t that it needs to happen here. We already know it. Rather, downtown NA’s merchants need to work together to insist on walkability, from a safety standpoint as well as their own self-interest.

So long as merchants, residents and other downtown stakeholders continue to swallow Team Gahan’s perpetual excuses for non-prioritization of complete streets, they’ll be denied the benefits of a walkable downtown. What we have now is unsafe and unsustainable. What we have now works daily to suppress the return on investments that we’ve all combined to make.  

It needs to change, now.

Transportation Officials Weigh In on Redesigning Tomorrow’s Streets, by Jen Kinney (Next City)

… Shared transit right-of-ways, active transportation lanes and safe intersections that allow all transit modes to intersect peacefully are all detailed in the Transit Street Design Guide. The guide complements NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide and Urban Street Design Guide, both of which advise cities on creating multimodal streets.

With the new guide, NACTO focuses on strategies to prioritize transit on existing urban right-of-ways.