Sunday, May 11, 2008

Woonerf, La Rambla, Park Blocks and Main Street

Since there's been a lot of talk about returning and not returning cars to Main Street, I decided to help visualize various suggestions.


A woonerf is what Jeff Speck's suggested for Main Street. A woonerf, where vehicular traffic is integrated with pedestrian activity, is not the return of pre-1974 Main Street. In fact part of Speck's point was that it would be not much different than the present state, where vehicles already travel down Main by special purpose (trolley, police, carriage) or by accident. Which is why it would only cost $50,000.

This is what our de facto woonerf looks like.

Cars on Main Woonerf would travel the same paths that the trolley travels.

La Rambla.

Carriages and trolleys on Main Street, from the Lincoln-American Tower

Suggested by the Pesky Fly.

Portland's Park Blocks

Suggested by k. irène.

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Blogger Naomi Van Tol said...

Despite my aggressively Dutch genetic structure, I have to say... couldn't they come up with a more melodious word?

Even when pronounced correctly, "woonerf" is NOT a word you can just spring on your friends like that, without any warning!

I may forgive you in time.

5:56 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Pronounced correctly halfway into a talk about making Memphis a walkable city, it's a great word.

First word in a blog post, maybe not so great.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Naomi Van Tol said...

Let's go uitwaaien along the woonerf!

8:08 AM  
Blogger jccvi said...

maybe we can eat a mckroket?

12:37 PM  
Blogger fearlessvk said...

Those are certainly attractive pictures. If we could design a public space like that along Main Street in Memphis, I'm all for it.

But, ever the pessimist, I have serious doubts about whether bringing cars to Main Street would remotely resemble any of those public spaces.

Or remotely improve retail conditions along the street.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong, though...

6:15 PM  
Blogger Naomi Van Tol said...

I'd prefer pfannkuchen mit huhn, which is a crepe-like pancake stuffed with chickeny goodness.

But no doubt McDonald's has developed a perverted replica of that, too.

7:26 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

fearless, the test will be the $50k part: can downtown movers conceive it as Speck has? If they start talking $$$$$ to make the change (not $50k), they haven't. They'll be thinking like old-school traffic engineers, ignoring this suggestion and ignoring walkability (which was the core of Speck's talk). I don't know if they will, but the price tag will telegraph their intent.

One of Speck's other suggestions was the fixing of the Main/South Main knuckle -- the walkability discontinuity created by the undeveloped Chisca and the massive MLG&W 80 foot berm on the east side, and the parking garage/parking lot on the west side. Restoring the continuity of Main/South Main/Beale Street is part of the retail solution as well.

mmmm, McKroket.

11:03 PM  
Blogger jccvi said...

Since this discussion began, I've been up to Main Street four or five times at lunchtime. A de facto woonerf already exists. It's really not that bad of a thing, but I wonder if that would change if it were extended beyond scofflaws and government vehicles. Taking a page(a hit?) from the dutch, maybe non-enforcement is the way to achieve the woonerf.

This is not going to be a popular position I'm about to take, but here goes. Main Street needs a top notch adaptive reuse McDonalds with a really nice playland and a Memphis theme like the one at Poplar and Tillman used to have. I like going to McDonalds like these in other countries. I love crazy McDonalds regional variations like the McKroket. In other countries, I use McDonalds as means of understanding currency exchange and for clean bathrooms. I can only assume the same in Memphis would benefit our foreign tourists.

I think such a McDonalds should have McRib always available, but with McSlaw and McDryrub. I love perverted McDonalds replicas, what can I say? I think I'm going to post on this at some point.

The best thing about Dutch is that it is as equally entertaining to read as it is to hear. I would wonder if people in the netherlands think english sounds and looks like gibberish dutch, but I've never met anywhere there who didn't already speak english, so it's almost a mut punt.

Beyond the Northwest/KLM connection, allergy season leaves Memphians with something of a dutch accent. The natural affinities are manifold. Come to think of it, everyone in the paintings of the dutch masters looks so ruddy and allergized, that I wonder if the entire culture and language wasn't formed by some sort of allegric reaction. A fascinating thought really.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Naomi Van Tol said...

Oh, please, you are SO wrong.

Hollanders have such rosy plump cheeks due to all of their vigorous uitwaaien along the woonerf to purchase the daily sack o' McKrokets with extra gravy.

(But then, I'm Dutch in name and DNA only, so what's my excuse? All the excess beer and wild tantric sex? No, that can't be it...)

5:58 PM  

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