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Uptown - Pedestrian Improvement Ideas


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so we all know pedestrian activity in uptown is severely lacking and pedestrian activity along the streets can be downright dangerous. what can be done to improve pedestrian activity throughout Uptown? the BRT line will really help get people moving if it ever gets built, but we need more than that to create a pedestrian friendly district.



a few ideas i had.



- designated bike lanes.

im thinking connections to Memorial Park.
bike lanes in the outer lanes of South Post Oak Lane from at least San Felipe/BLVD Place up to Exbury/Riverway before turning right on Riverway. there would then be a new pedestrian bridge built over the pipeline/under the powerlines that cross Buffalo Bayou at the east end of Riverway where it curves north, connecting over into Memorial Park.
possible bike lanes along Uptown Park Blvd to the wide sidewalk along the 610 feeder to Memorial Park?
possible bike lanes going down Post Oak Park Dr, possibly from San Felipe all the way north to 610 feeder road sidewalks, up to Memorial Park.
and a greenway pedestrian corridor along the west side of the train tracks from Memorial Park down to at least Westheimer. though hopefully that whole route will be one of the utility ROWs being converted to bike paths as part of CenterPoint and the cities plans.



- pedestrian over/underpasses.

since crossing some of the roads like Post Oak, Westheimer, and San Felipe can be hazardous, we could build pedestrian overpasses or underpasses to cross them at certain points. im thinking overpasses for the pedestrian bridges over San Felipe (and possibly one over Westheimer between theGalleria and McCue Rd?), and underpasses below Post Oak.

for overpasses it could be cool to come up with a less sprawling and Chrome version of Ghery's squiggly BP Pedestrian Bridge in Chicago at Millennium Park. 

1024px-Bp_bridge.JPG

while doing searches for underpasses i found this great link, highlighting pedestrian underpasses, also found in Chicago..

http://thesuperbelt.blogspot.com/2010/06/local-landmarks-chicagos-pedestrian.html

i could see these in Uptown. 

riverwalkunderpass.jpg

but with zig zag ramps at the end parallel with Post Oak, to minimize intrusiveness into developments along the street. it would be awesome if they could put escalators and stairs down to these theoretical underpasses from the BRT/hopefully-one-day-LRT stations in the median of Post Oak so you didnt have to worry about crossing the street at all.



- wider sidewalks.

convert the sidewalks to 10' wide or w/e width the wider ones are, vs the standard 6'(?) wide sidewalks that are already in place.



- those red signal indicators in the ground at crosswalks, like in downtown when the light rail is coming.

mainly just to light up when people press the buttons to cross streets, to make crossing a little safer/have a visual indicator to motorists that someone is crossing the street.






none of my ideas are too groundbreaking.. just common sense IMO. but for some reason they havent made any attempt at improving pedestrian activity besides the fancy talking crosswalk buttons, and i think these ideas would help out a lot.

what ideas do yall have for improving pedestrian life in Uptown? have you seen any neat/unique pedestrian enhancer in your travels to other major cities that you think could work well in Uptown? (that reminds me.. the circle pedestrian/bike bridge in the Netherlands[?] is pretty sweet and could be cool around some of the major intersections on Post Oak. make them just like bigger versions of the chrome rings that already hang above the intersections, for pedestrians to cross the streets on)

the-hovenring-pod-suspendat-pt-biciclete

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so we all know pedestrian activity in uptown is severely lacking and pedestrian activity along the streets can be downright dangerous. what can be done to improve pedestrian activity throughout Uptown? the BRT line will really help get people moving if it ever gets built, but we need more than that to create a pedestrian friendly district.

a few ideas i had.

- designated bike lanes.

im thinking connections to Memorial Park.

bike lanes in the outer lanes of South Post Oak Lane from at least San Felipe/BLVD Place up to Exbury/Riverway before turning right on Riverway. there would then be a new pedestrian bridge built over the pipeline/under the powerlines that cross Buffalo Bayou at the east end of Riverway where it curves north, connecting over into Memorial Park.

possible bike lanes along Uptown Park Blvd to the wide sidewalk along the 610 feeder to Memorial Park?

possible bike lanes going down Post Oak Park Dr, possibly from San Felipe all the way north to 610 feeder road sidewalks, up to Memorial Park.

and a greenway pedestrian corridor along the west side of the train tracks from Memorial Park down to at least Westheimer. though hopefully that whole route will be one of the utility ROWs being converted to bike paths as part of CenterPoint and the cities plans.

- pedestrian over/underpasses.

since crossing some of the roads like Post Oak, Westheimer, and San Felipe can be hazardous, we could build pedestrian overpasses or underpasses to cross them at certain points. im thinking overpasses for the pedestrian bridges over San Felipe (and possibly one over Westheimer between theGalleria and McCue Rd?), and underpasses below Post Oak.

for overpasses it could be cool to come up with a less sprawling and Chrome version of Ghery's squiggly BP Pedestrian Bridge in Chicago at Millennium Park.

1024px-Bp_bridge.JPG

while doing searches for underpasses i found this great link, highlighting pedestrian underpasses, also found in Chicago..

http://thesuperbelt.blogspot.com/2010/06/local-landmarks-chicagos-pedestrian.html

i could see these in Uptown.

riverwalkunderpass.jpg

but with zig zag ramps at the end parallel with Post Oak, to minimize intrusiveness into developments along the street. it would be awesome if they could put escalators and stairs down to these theoretical underpasses from the BRT/hopefully-one-day-LRT stations in the median of Post Oak so you didnt have to worry about crossing the street at all.

- wider sidewalks.

convert the sidewalks to 10' wide or w/e width the wider ones are, vs the standard 6'(?) wide sidewalks that are already in place.

- those red signal indicators in the ground at crosswalks, like in downtown when the light rail is coming.

mainly just to light up when people press the buttons to cross streets, to make crossing a little safer/have a visual indicator to motorists that someone is crossing the street.

none of my ideas are too groundbreaking.. just common sense IMO. but for some reason they havent made any attempt at improving pedestrian activity besides the fancy talking crosswalk buttons, and i think these ideas would help out a lot.

what ideas do yall have for improving pedestrian life in Uptown? have you seen any neat/unique pedestrian enhancer in your travels to other major cities that you think could work well in Uptown? (that reminds me.. the circle pedestrian/bike bridge in the Netherlands[?] is pretty sweet and could be cool around some of the major intersections on Post Oak. make them just like bigger versions of the chrome rings that already hang above the intersections, for pedestrians to cross the streets on)

the-hovenring-pod-suspendat-pt-biciclete

I love those. I have suggested that to the Uptown district for years. What a difference that would make if you could safely cross the street!

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- designated bike lanes.

im thinking connections to Memorial Park.

bike lanes in the outer lanes of South Post Oak Lane from at least San Felipe/BLVD Place up to Exbury/Riverway before turning right on Riverway. there would then be a new pedestrian bridge built over the pipeline/under the powerlines that cross Buffalo Bayou at the east end of Riverway where it curves north, connecting over into Memorial Park.

possible bike lanes along Uptown Park Blvd to the wide sidewalk along the 610 feeder to Memorial Park?

possible bike lanes going down Post Oak Park Dr, possibly from San Felipe all the way north to 610 feeder road sidewalks, up to Memorial Park.

and a greenway pedestrian corridor along the west side of the train tracks from Memorial Park down to at least Westheimer. though hopefully that whole route will be one of the utility ROWs being converted to bike paths as part of CenterPoint and the cities plans.

in addition to the designated bike lanes through Uptown, i think it would be cool to trench a few lanes of Memorial Dr between Crestwood and Shepherd, (an obvious added benefit is eliminating those stop lights on Memorial for through traffic), to have room to add bike paths next to the local traffic roads on the land and overhangs above (overhangs a la LBJ Freeway managed lanes, sans the bike path).

this would allow Memorial Park to be connected to the trails along Buffalo Bayou park, and in essence be filling in the last link to form a pedestrian connection between Uptown to Downtown.

imagine a 4 lane version of this.. with local traffic on the overhangs above, and pedestrian pathways/trails running along side that.

Picture5.jpg

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Man, there (was) so much opportunity 40 years ago. The opportunity still exists today but it will be a real challenge.

Dedicated bike lanes? Man, those would be terrific. Linking memorial park to the gallaria would be huge since that also means that you will be able to (hopefully soon) get all the way into downtown (tinsley) and then all the way to herman park (eastTap) ..... Huge.

Wider sidewalks? Fantastic. Especially if they can be shaded from afternoon sun.

Over/under passes for pedestrians? Huge! Why not have key overpasses link directly to a store front? Go over the parking lots.

Would it be possible to RAISE the sidewalk? Like the skyline walkway in NYC. Stairs or elevators at each key location to bring you dow to the street. Landowners could spend their own money to connect their property to the Elevated walk (to bring peeps to the stores). There could be gardens and fountains and places to sit all 20'-30' up. Cars exiting the parking lots would pass below. Run this right up post oak. Hell, put the bike lane on it.......... Escalator.... Like the one in Ikea .......to get your bike up and down.

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Since a Highline style park, or any lengthy elevated structures for that matter, aren't likely to happen along Post Oak due to Uptowns opposition to an elevated rail line down post oak, what if we did this (picture below) to Post Oak as well, with the rail/bus/whatever lanes running down the trenched section. Or better yet, put the lanes of traffic underground and have the rail/bus/whatever lanes on the surface, and use the newly vacant land along Post Oak for greenway-esque bike pathways and wider sidewalks for people walking and maybe have some space for outdoor cafe seating, water features, ect..

If only...

Picture5.jpg

Also here are a few sketches I drew up when I was bored of some of the pedestrian improvements I would make to Uptown.

The red circles are obviously the Dutch Hovenring-esque pedestrian elevated crosswalks. The blue Us are pedestrian underpasses/light rail/bus station crosswalks, and the squiggly green are BP pedestrian bridge-esque overpasses. I'm not sure the one on San Felipe at the railroad tracks needs to be too fancy though.

FB0603D7-75FD-4A52-B71D-E31F78225509_zps

A sketch of what it all might look like, facing west at Post Oak and San Felipe. It was really hard to draw ramps up from the underpass at the rail station/give the affect of it going up hill from below the street, but you get the idea.

798ADFFE-379A-4C9C-957E-9F55B748E12E_zps

And some potential bike lanes (red). I'm not sure the 2nd from the right is needed. It was originally supposed to be for Westcreek residents, but they can take Bettis Ave over to the path along the railroad tracks. Also I'd probably carry the South Post Oak Lane (far left) path south across the hypothetical bridge at San Felipe, continuing through BLVD place and down all the way to Westheimer, by means of McCue Rd.

4B949242-9C1B-4858-8A9E-9A8A530B9081.png

Edited by cloud713
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One other thing that both cuts into the walkability and mitigates against any grade separation of Post Oak and/or Westheimer is the sheer number of driveways.  IMHO, an elevated rail with shaded High Line style pedestrian promenades makes a lot of sense... shoot, they could even go above the surface parking lots rather than in the street ROW.  The idea isn't all that original - it's what Texas Eastern had in mind for Houston Center 40 years ago.

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What surface lots though? There's really only the big surface lots in front of the shopping centers to build over. And they were pretty adamant about not having elevated rail down Post Oak if I'm not mistaken..

Here's a much more reasonable and less invasive alternative to the crazy trenching of Memorial through the residential area to connect Memorial Park to Buffalo Bayou Park. Bypass all of that by building a Boardwalk Trail a la Austins $28 million 1.1 mile Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk Trail along/over the bayou between the two parks. The distance between fhe two parks is about the same as the LBL BT.

IMG_5372.JPG

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If an elevated walkway, like the highline In NYC was proposed, do folks really think that the uptown folks would be against it? Elevated bus or trains come with certain perceptions of noise, etc. but an elevated park that would connect many of the residential properties to each other and shopping? I am shocked that folks would be against this. Really?

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Here's a much more reasonable and less invasive alternative to the crazy trenching of Memorial through the residential area to connect Memorial Park to Buffalo Bayou Park. Bypass all of that by building a Boardwalk Trail a la Austins $28 million 1.1 mile Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk Trail along/over the bayou between the two parks. The distance between fhe two parks is about the same as the LBL BT.

IMG_5372.JPG

No one thought this would be a reasonable solution for linking pedestrian access between the two parks, and thus downtown to uptown?

It would be nice to borrow a few strips of land on the banks of the bayou along River Oaks Country Club (edit. just looked at Google Maps non satellite view and saw that the majority of the stretch of land i wanted to use along the River Oaks Golf Course is actually not part of the country club. i assume its owned by the city), MFAH Bayou Bend Collection, maybe the empty plot of land just east of Asbury St, and along the edge of the two multi family developments before linking into the west end of the Buffalo Bayou trail. Assuming those people were cooperative, there would really only need to be a stretch between that steakhouse/residential tower and Asbury St. that is bridged over the water (though I'd imagine even the land portions would be elevated off the bayou banks to stay above the flood zone), because both sides of the bayou have a couple private residences through that short stretch. Those few houses are the only people I could see super opposed to a park connector Boardwalk Trail. The residential tower and the multi family developments along the bayou can even have pedestrian access points connecting into the Boardwalk Trail.

Edited by cloud713
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One other thing that both cuts into the walkability and mitigates against any grade separation of Post Oak and/or Westheimer is the sheer number of driveways.  IMHO, an elevated rail with shaded High Line style pedestrian promenades makes a lot of sense... shoot, they could even go above the surface parking lots rather than in the street ROW.  The idea isn't all that original - it's what Texas Eastern had in mind for Houston Center 40 years ago.

I assume you've seen the renderings for the original Houston Center, no? The "platform city" concept is definitely intriguing, but it makes the street level activity dark and gloomy.

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I have seen those renderings... and there is no need to make the streets dark and gloomy.  HC as built has lots of (cheerful, airy) gerbil tubes but only a couple ('70s era) caves.*  Another example is the ring connecting the Enron Chevron complex over Smith Street at Bell/Ruthven.

 

* as if we really need anything more to mock the '70s...

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Well, obviously Westheimer @ Post Oak will be where the subway station is, and thus connecting all corners of the intersection. The Czar has spoken.

 

Seriously though Cloud, while those elevated walkways may seem cool, that circular one above any intersection would be quite awful. First of all, you are taking away the signature stainless steel street signs and lamps. Secondly, It's not that difficult to cross a street and wait for the sign. It is done every second of every day in all major cities. The pedestrian bridges make sense over roads like Memorial (East of Shepherd), Allen Parkway even, because those roads do not have a lot of stop signs/traffic lights. Thirdly, the blight of having a monsters pedestrian circus tent above the intersection would create a gloomy and dark intersection.

 

If we are looking to create a continuous & safe flow of pedestrian side walks and bicycle lanes, the obvious choice is going under. Elevating anything like this would look terrible IMO, unless someone spent a billion dollars to make sure it would be some masterpiece of engineering and architecture that would be the envy of the world. Otherwise, it just creates a mess from the street level, and looks extremely tacky.

 

Some kind of underpass under the roads to the hopefully widened sidewalks, that is wide, well lit, and not hard on the eyes. And I'm not talking about a connection of tunnels like Downtown, I'm talking about just under a few roads.

 

f0wz93.jpg

 

Some of them could even have different works of art. Or they could all be uniform (which would fit better with the theme of the area)

 

14j6s9c.png

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