MAKING A BETTER BLOCK FOR EVERYONE
Making High Street a Better Block for Everyone
For three days, we transformed High Street in San Luis Obispo, California. Community members gathered to build a temporary parklet in front of High Street Deli with added traffic-calming features to make the roadway safer for all.
Engineering Safer Neighborhoods
Located just west of San Luis Obispo’s Railroad District, High Street is one of the city’s busiest street segments. From high-speed traffic using the street as convenient thoroughfare to a popular market and deli business storefront, High Street sees an overflow of activity daily—all confined within a neighborhood. In addition to cars, other typical users of High Street include cyclists, skateboarders, pedestrians, resident families, and large freight trucks from a nearby delivery business. In response to these unsafe conditions, a Better Block event dubbed the “High Street Block Party” was organized and led by Cannon staff with volunteers from the local community. The Better Block Foundation is a 501 (c)3 non-profit that educates, equips, and empowers communities and their leaders to reshape and reactivate built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods.
A Green, Complete Concept
The High Street Block Party event temporarily transformed the 300 block of High Street with features such as hand-painted crates for parklet walls, road tubes to direct traffic, temporary street markings, and potted plantings with fiber rolls to imitate bulb-outs. This provided an opportunity to test conceptualized solutions to rebuilding High Street with more pedestrian/community amenities and traffic calming features in real-time. As a result, it was found that there was a visible decrease in vehicle speeds—narrowed lanes carefully navigated traffic through the street, and drivers even waved to the event organizers/goers. A temporary street crossing allowed for safe pedestrian passage to the High Street Deli and the temporary parklet with nearby bicycle racks provided a much improved community space.
Public Outreach and Engagement
Community interest and support were key factors of the High Street Block Party. A series of activities were scheduled over the course of the three-day event to attract participants: a children’s “Eskimo Pie” ice cream social; a “bike happy” happy hour; and crafts, games, and live music. A complimentary bike breakfast was followed by a bike train from a nearby Elementary School and a speech from the City’s Mayor. A comment card box was created to allow community members an opportunity to share their thoughts about the project, improvements that could be made, and what they would like to see in the neighborhood.