#SlowtheCars: Changing the way we view our roadways, their costs, and the impact on adjacent properties, and communicating the change.


It’s interesting to contemplate the example of various community groups working together to achieve a goal of common utility for all. It should be noted that such a program of work can bubble up from the grassroots, as in this instance, and not always from the top, trickling down.

Although the grassroots stakeholders must be willing to do their own organizational work, for their own benefit.

Sheeple need not apply, and yet …


… In Columbus (Georgia), the need to redesign 13th Street came to the forefront when an alignment of efforts between a number of community groups occurred. We could quickly move the articulation of this need from political favor to necessary for equitable transportation, community building, and improvement in the productivity of a space. Beginning in 2014, community leaders attended the Doable Cities Conference hosted by the Knight Foundation and 8-80 Cities. The Knight Foundation along with Gehl Studio continued to be involved in our community, funding the creation of a minimum grid plan to better connect our core communities and helping us assess our public space.


The culmination of the minimum grid grant included funding for a demonstration project. Midtown, Inc. and the city of Columbus both were excited to help convert the section of 13th Street in front of my shopping center back to two travel lanes and a center turn lane. With the balance of the space, bike lanes were added for each direction of travel. Because this was a local street, was funded through a grant, and the staff believed it was in the best interest of the community, the project was approved and executed with little fanfare. In fact, we heard stories of some who drove on the street for a week before they noticed the change.

However, the effect of the change was immediate. The motorists on the roadway consistently ran at or below the speed limit. Those driving through the area felt more safe in their cars and all the businesses commented that their customers felt more comfortable coming and going from the center. The biggest change, though, was that the street became crossable. Tenants, their staff and customers began using the ample parking across the street and found that consistently crossing the street was easy. It has been a resounding success.