Last month, we talked about Ellsworth Drive and what makes a good pedestrian street. Canadian planner Luis Rodriguez has a really awesome write-up at Planetizen that lays out five characteristics shared by successful carfree districts:
first, they have to be readily and easily accessible from, or mixed with, high density residential areas, office buildings, and other businesses and places of work;
secondly, they have to be extremely well connected to, and served by, the public transportation system;
thirdly, they have to be strategically interconnected with the city's pedestrian system and bicycle routes;
fourthly, they have to offer convenient bicycle parking facilities at key access points along the POSS, and/or bicycle services that allow bikers to either bike back to their original point of arrival, or between the parking facilities provided, particularly when the POSS are very long;
and fifthly, they have to be planned, designed and managed on an ongoing basis for success.
How many of these things does Ellsworth Drive already have? The Metro station two blocks away and scores of bus routes mean public transit access is great, and there are ample sidewalks. The Peterson Companies, which manages the Downtown Silver Spring complex, has done a pretty good job of running the place over the past eight years with a few slip-ups.
Two things Ellsworth Drive lacks are density and bike infrastructure. While there are lots of office and residential buildings nearby, there aren't any on Ellsworth Drive itself, which reduces the number of people who could be walking around and supporting the businesses on the street. There are also very few bike lanes in the vicinity and no bike parking that I'm aware of. It's a shame because many people who drive to Ellsworth would or could bike there if the right facilities were provided. Not only does that reduce traffic, but it would enable more people to reach Ellsworth Drive if it were closed to cars.
Together, Ellsworth and neighboring Veterans Plaza form one of the great urban spaces in the Washington area. By looking at what makes other spaces so successful, it can become even better.