Yesterday I argued that the width of the streets around Pioneer Park have a negative impact on its vitality. The idea is that streets are so wide, dangerous and oppressive for anyone not in a car that people don’t want to be around them. And since Pioneer Park is surrounded by these streets, it suffers.
That’s a stark contrast to the park I’ve been discussing in Vancouver, where normal-sized streets allow a relatively pleasant environment to exist.
But just to make this point absolutely clear, here are a few pictures of 300 West, which runs down the west side of Pioneer Park:
As I hope these pictures illustrate, there are actually really great destinations in this part of town. The park is shady and well manicured — which makes it nice on hot summer days — and there’s a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church on the corner. This should be a decent spot.
But it isn’t and that has a lot to do with how wide this street is. In the top picture, a freeway-esque sign is even in visible on the center median. It’s like we’ve given up.
I can’t think of any other park I’ve ever been to that was successful but surrounded by this kind of infrastructure. I am skeptical that such a scenario can even exist. That means that if we want to fix Pioneer Park, we have to fix the streets that define its boundaries.