Safer crosswalks, better bike lanes and traffic calming measures were among the ideas discussed for making downtown Pullman a more pleasant destination during a “walk audit” of the city’s streets Thursday.
Mark Fenton, a public health planning and transportation consultant, conducted the event, where community members and city leaders walked through downtown to identify the positives and negatives for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists.
“I’d love this to be a park once, walk everywhere type of downtown,” Fenton said.
Participants were asked to give each stretch of sidewalk on the tour a grade from zero to 10 based on a set of criteria. They were asked to look at design, safety, furnishings, whether it adequately connects people to downtown’s amenities and if downtown is friendly to bikers, walkers and vehicles.
The group of people started their tour at the Pullman Depot and Heritage Center and went a short distance down North Grand Avenue. It received a range of scores from three to eight, with criticisms for the noise of Grand Avenue, no delineation for pedestrians and bicyclists and lack of shade.
The positives included road width and how it connects downtown to businesses on North Grand Avenue.
Fenton and others suggested adding decals to separate bicyclists and walkers, and planting trees to add more shade to the route.
From there, the group graded the stretch from the depot to Neill Public Library, which received mostly low scores because of its narrow closeness to busy traffic and a relatively poor surface quality.
The group did appreciate the trees, the signage and the location of the library.
The next stretch, which crossed Main Street and turned the corner onto Spring Street, received the most praise because of its proximity to downtown’s shops and restaurants.
The major concern was the crosswalk connecting the concrete triangle island on Main Street. Drivers turning right onto Grand Avenue from Main Street may not always see pedestrians crossing from their right.
Fenton suggested at that location creating a speed table, a raised part of the road that acts as a traffic calming measure forcing drivers to be more careful and making pedestrians more visible.
The sidewalk along Paradise Street was heavily criticized for being narrow, the awkward placement of telephone polls, lack of greenery and proximity to a busy street where cars often drive faster than the posted speed limit.
The group suggested using the back of the Evolve on Main mixed-use building as a place for public artwork or awnings to beautify the walk.
The group continued throughout downtown and into College Hill with the goal of identifying inexpensive improvement possibilities.
Fenton said improving downtown sectors for walkers and bikers not only makes the city more friendly for everyone, but also encourages daily physical activity, thus cutting health care costs.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.