“Seacoast Transportation – New Modes of Getting Around” (5/12/2015)
The moderator is Bill Lyons, a principal technical adviser in transportation planning at the Volpe Center, the U.S. National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge. Panelists are Rad Nichols, executive director of the COAST bus system; Steve Pesci, of COAST and UNH Wildcat Transit bus systems ; and Scott Bogle, senior transportation planner at the Rockingham Planning Commission.
“Street Smarts: Managing Parking, Traffic, and the Pedestrian Experience in Portsmouth” (4/30/2015)
Rick Chellman is a consultant on street design, traffic planning and urban design with more than 30 years experience.
What’s the first thing a city should do if it has a parking shortage?
At a PS21 event on April 2, Michael Manville said the city should “play with the prices” to get people to change when and where they park.
“It’s probably the first ten things you try,” he told an audience of about 100 at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth. “If you’re still not getting the return you want, you would think about adding supply.”
The question was one of many parking policy questions Manville, assistant professor of City & Regional Planning at Cornell University, addressed during a presentation “Parking and Downtown Vitality” at 3S Artspace. Manville studies studies the relationships between transportation and land use, and local public finance, with a particular emphasis on urban parking.
The presentation was funded in part by the Geoffrey E. Clark and Martha Fuller Clark Donor Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation.
Over the course of an hour, Manville built the case that properly priced parking is crucial to the success of downtowns.
He began by reminding the audience of the purpose of parking — simply put, to assure drivers they will find a parking spot. That’s why cities aim for 85 percent parking occupancy, rather than 100 percent. With examples and evidence ranging from Tulsa to California to Portsmouth, Manville explored the relationship between parking and downtown economies and how cities try to strike a balance between parking that is easy to find, cheap, and a reliable source of revenue. (Hint: you can’t have all three).
The event was the first in a PS21 series this spring that will look at what other communities have learned about transportation solutions for now and for the future.
The Coruway Film Institute, a series sponsor, recorded the presentation April 2 and Seacoast Media Group was media sponsor.
(SAVE THE DATE: Tuesday, April 28. Rick Chellman, who consults nationally and internationally about street design, and lives in downtown Portsmouth, will discuss two-way streets, on-street parking and the pedestrian experience in Portsmouth. )
After several days of discussions with residents and official, Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative unveiled conceptual plan for the future of the West End/Islington Street Corridor (Feb. 23).
The plan looks far into the future and envisions a different, more cohesive and developed area. TPUDC will go away to polish the plan and then develop zoning guidelines down to the level of individual buildings. The new “character-based” zoning plan needs to be approved by the City Council before it can go into effect.
More than 50 residents braved snow drifts and narrowed streets Tuesday evening (Feb. 10) for PS21’s ‘virtual walking tour’ of the Islington Street-West End neighborhood.
The photo tour, narrated by Joe Calderola, included aerial and street views, photos of historic homes, plans for the Islington Street Corridor, upcoming development, illustrations of the area’s character, and opportunities for the future.
The discussion afterward continued for an hour with participation from Portsmouth Planning Director Rick Taintor and City Councilors Esther Kennedy and Stefany Shaheen. Karen Marzloff of PS21 moderated.
The tour presentation provided an overview of the area, which will be the subject of a 4-day public workshop on ‘character-based’ zoning Friday thru Monday, Feb. 20-23.
The workshop will be at the Frank Jones Center, 400 Route One Bypass, Portsmouth, except the final, Monday, which is at City Hall.
During the ‘charrette,’ or design workshop, the public will be able to drop in at any time from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday. Citizens can view maps and materials, talk with zoning consultants, and leave comments.
In addition, a number of specific sessions are scheduled:
Friday, Feb. 20 – Introduction to the Process, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 21 – Roundtable Discussions
10:00 a.m. – Business, Landowners and Developers
12:30 p.m. – Building Scale & Design
2:00 p.m. – Public Realm & Civic Spaces (The public is invited to all roundtables, including “Business, Landowners and Developers.”)
Sunday, Feb. 22 – Interim Conclusions Plus Review, 5 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 23 – Closing Presentation, 6 p.m., City Hall.
Renowned urban planner Jeff Speck gave a provocative, idea-filled (and often funny) presentation and workshop in Portsmouth Jan. 22 and Jan. 23. Around 200 people came to the presentation 60 to the workshop. Speck talked about how cities work and suggested ways that Portsmouth can become more liveable and successful through ‘walkability.’
Around 50 people turned out in chill weather for a citizen-led walking tour of the North End hosted by PS21 (Portsmouth Smart 21st Century) on Saturday. Above, PS21’s Karen Marzloff addresses the crowd.
Participants discussed current and potential development in the neighborhood, and the character of the North End in anticipation of the City of Portsmouth’s Nov. 10-13 charrette on ‘character-based’ zoning.
The charrette begins with a public presentation and hands-on workshop at 6 p.m. Monday in the former Portsmouth Herald building on Maplewood Avenue. Above, Karen Marzloff of PS21 addresses participants. For more information on the charrette, see http://tinyurl.com/p3ggxs2.
More than 30 people attended a PS21 event on Oct. 22, a workhop with the statewide nonprofit Plan New Hampshire. Plan NH’s Robin LeBlanc says the workshop aims to “shift” thinking about the future by examining assumptions about life here, conversations that are going on, and questions people have or might ask about the coming decades.
Below are notes on the wide-ranging discussion as recorded by PS21’s Jerry Zelin.
A Workshop, “SHIFT,” led by Robin LeBlanc of Plan NH 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22 Portsmouth Middle School Auditorium
Notes by Jerry Zelin
Doug Roberts: Announces a North End walk scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Nov. 8, 2014, 10 A.M., starting at on Maplewood AvenueCindy Ann Cleaners, to discuss possibilities for each lot in the North End.
Robin LeBlanc: She has lived in New Hampshire for 30 years, currently Exec. Dir. of Plan New Hampshire.
Audience: Attendees introduce themselves. Most live in Portsmouth. Some live in Eliot, Durham, etc.
Robin: Plan NH develops workshops like this, to trigger shifts in thinking about the future of towns and cities. Not Portsmouth-specific but for any community …
Why did people move here?
Socio-economic diversity when moved here
Significant changes could be in the offing for Maplewood Avenue, in part because the resolution of issues involving the final phase of the Portwalk development.
Portwalk’s developers admitted earlier this year to making numerous unauthorized changes to Phase 3 of the Portwalk plan, which had been approved by the Planning Board and Historic District Commission. As part of the approval of their resubmitted site plan, in June the developers agreed to put $250,000 into an account toward Maplewood Avenue improvements.
These could include the widening of sidewalks, landscaping and more. Deputy City Manager Dave Allen also revealed that the city has a conceptual plan that would convert Maplewood Avenue to three lanes. Allen said three lanes, wider sidewalks, and trees could make the street more hospitable to pedestrians despite the relative size of Portwalk III.
During the discussion, Allen and Planning Board Chair John Ricci both commented that their views on ‘walkability’ and building design have changed in recent months, with Allen citing PS21’s events and Complete Streets presentations as contributing factors. Continue reading Maplewood Avenue Changes?→
Cities for People, the 2010 book by Danish architect and urban planning consultant Jan Gehl, is full of insights into what makes successful city life.
Many of his observations at first seem startling, but somehow later seem like common sense. Here are a half-dozen quotes from Cities for People.
“In every case, attempts to relieve traffic pressure by building more roads and parking garages have generated more traffic and congestion. The volume of traffic almost everywhere is more or less arbitrary, depending on the available transportation infrastructure.”
“More roads invite more traffic [and] better conditions for bicyclists invite more people to ride bikes, but by improving the conditions for pedestrians, we not only strengthen pedestrian traffic, we also — and most importantly — strengthen city life.”
“There is so much more to walking than walking! “
“A lifeless street is like an empty theater: Something must be wrong with the production since there is no audience.”
“Above the fifth floor, offices and housing should logically be the province of the air-traffic authorities. At any rate, they no longer belong in the city.”
“It is widely believed that the lively city needs high building density and large concentrations of dwellings and workplaces. But what the lively city really needs is a combination of good inviting city space and a certain critical mass of people who want to use it.”
Cities for People is available at the Portsmouth Public Library or from Riverrun Bookstore.
The new, large and highly visible “bicycle corral” at the corner of Daniel and Penhallow Streets in Portsmouth has engendered a lot of comment, not all it favorable.
In a letter to Daniel Street neighbors, however, city transportation planner Juliet Walker says that bike corrals “are particularly suited for commercial areas, where sidewalks are narrow and heavily used by pedestrians and / or [there is] outdoor seating or other street furniture.”
She adds that the Daniel Street location has been frequently used for illegal parking, which interferes with sight lines and creates unsafe conditions at the intersection for pedestrians and drivers.