Crocker-planning_288Crocker Art Museum is undertaking a community visioning and planning process to develop and implement new ideas for the area around the museum and park, and particularly connections between the two. Workshops were held earlier, and now the museum is seeking feedback on some initial conceptual design to be presented at three workshops:

The museum says “At the presentations, you can also learn about a comprehensive plan for public art and art experiences that will unify the districts abutting the riverfront by creating pedestrian friendly pathways, linking art, entertainment, employment, and recreation with new residential developments along the Sacramento riverfront. This effort to create a vibrant new art link between Sacramento and West Sacramento will have Crocker Park at its center.”

Whether you are a visitor or a member (I am), this project could not only significantly improve the area around the museum, but show another way forward than our car-dominated spaces in Sacramento.

My comments to the museum follow.

The feeling of O Street is particularly important to me. It should not feel like a street. It should be a space that seamlessly connects the museum to the park. That doesn’t mean there can’t be cars on the street, but that the design should make it absolutely clear that cars are guests, whereas walkers are the entitled users. The design that induces that feeling is a woonerf. There should not be curbs. Spaces should be demarcated by color and texture. Crosswalks would be unnecessary because the entire section is a pedestrian space, and traffic is moving slowly enough that pedestrians can freely chose where they cross. If there is street parking on O St, it should be designed in such a way that pedestrians can move easily in between parked cars, so that the parked cars do not present either an actual or perceptual barrier.

My second major area of concern is overall traffic flow. During busy times at the museum, car traffic dominates the entire space. It is hard for people arriving at and departing the museum to cross O Street due to the high volume. There are two solutions. One is to discourage close-in parking and encourage people to park further away and to walk to the museum, along safe and welcoming sidewalks and pathways. The objective should not be to provide close-in parking. Of course people with mobility issues should be welcome to drop off and pick up close to the entrance, and sufficient parking should be close by for those where the driver has mobility issues as well and must park close by. But for able-bodied patrons, a walk will do them good.

O Street should not be a prominent part of the traffic pattern, rather is should be a pedestrian space and a drop-off/pick-up area. I have not had a chance to check this idea on the ground, but I will suggest that the street departing from P St should connect directly to the fragment of 2nd Street along which people park, without the jog currently required that tends to push people onto O Street rather than continuing to the north. This would require reconfiguring the roadways, and might result in some loss of trees, but ultimately I think a rational (and SLOW) flow of traffic helps everyone enjoy the museum.

I arrive at the museum by walking and bicycling – I’m car free. Though I live to the east of the museum, I sometimes enter from the river side, so I’m pleased that pedestrian access is being improved there. When I arrive from the east, it does not feel unsafe, but it does not feel welcoming, either. There is no path across the park between the 3rd St/N St intersection, nor are there any sidewalks along the N St and 2nd St fragments. When bicycling, I either arrive from the river side, so again, better now than previously, or from P Street. The exit from P St and the street west of the museum are not welcoming to bicyclists. This is not, of course the fault of the museum, since P Street was designed as and serves as a high-speed onramp to the freeway, but whatever message can be sent to drivers that bicyclists are accommodated and welcomed here is a plus.

And then of course, there is bicycle parking. The existing bicycle parking is OK, but is insufficient for large events. The capacity should be tripled, with all new parking meeting the highest standards of the Association for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Professionals, including security. Some long-term bike lockers should be installed, both for museum patrons who spend longer times at the museum and for employees who wish to arrive by bike. The BikeLink system is the perfect solution, and is already in place in Folsom and to be added to Sacramento Valley Station.

About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

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