I'm about to finish a class in Active Design, which seeks to promote healthier living through changes in the built environment. I was surprised at how low the activity threshold really was for active living. When I mentioned that I was in this course, people would ask if we were designing running tracks and climbing walls. It's really about getting people to walk 20 minutes a day or take the stairs instead of the elevator. While it feels like low-hanging fruit, our built environment in most of the country does a very effective job of keeping people inactive, and an entire suite of tools has been developed to help reverse some of these ill effects.
With that in mind, we participated in a design exercise for the stretch of Myrtle Avenue north of Pratt, between Hall Street and Emerson Place. Myrtle overall has been undergoing an intensive revitalization over the past decade, and the street design reflects that - trees, benches, bike racks, inviting storefronts. This one stretch, with its bizarre service road and narrow sidewalks, has the feeling of an earlier era.
Our design proposals take a few pages out of NYCDOT's handbook, including a plaza with moveable seating and pedestrian crossing and access improvements. We also seek out new street design treatments, a new bike/ped access point through the superblock, new stoplights, seating, community garden space, bioswales, public art, etc. etc. We had a limited time frame and in the end I don't know how close we were to the mark, but we'll see tonight when we present to staff from DOT.