A new “tactical urbanism” project in West Asheville, NC

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Remember back in 2018 when the South Slope’s Coxe Ave. was transformed into a pedestrian + bike-friendly streetscape with a butterfly mural? We’re about to see another “tactical urbanism” project just like that one kick off on Thurs., May 20, at the intersection of West Asheville’s Westwood Pl. and Waynesville Ave.

The 3-day installation will be led by the Asheville Street Tweaks team and aims to improve neighborhood and pedestrian safety through the addition of a traffic circle + visual street art from Leslie Rosenberg.

Dig into the details of this cool new project below. 

The 2018 Coxe Ave. streetscape transformation | Photo by @ashevilleonbikes

But first, what the heck is tactical urbanism? 

Simply put, it’s the practice of executing smaller-scale, cheaper projects with a quick turnaround in order to figure out the best strategies for developing widespread and long-lasting improvements in a community. 

The $150,000 Coxe Ave. project — funded entirely by the Street Tweaks Partnership — was Asheville’s first foray into this approach, and according to the project’s follow-up report, it achieved considerable success. The installation of new signage, crosswalks, widened pedestrian paths, a temporary mural + other features managed to reduce traffic speeds by 28.3% while providing a safer overall experience for pedestrians and bicyclists. 

Screengrab courtesy of Asheville on Bikes

 

Why this location? 

TLDR; it’s unsafe. This high-traffic intersection allows cars to turn at high speeds while crossing the paths of pedestrians + bicyclists. The lack of crosswalks and safety markings, paired with the street’s wideness, poses a considerable danger to pedestrians.

What’s the inspiration behind the art design?

Resident artist Leslie Rosenberg, who specializes in place-based creations, will include goldfinch, blue bottles + milkweed in her mural as an ode to Christopher’s Garden, an upcycled bottle garden that formerly occupied the space. After asking for the public’s input about their experiences there, she learned that the bottle garden held a special place in people’s hearts and wanted to commemorate it. 

Interested in getting involved in this project? The Street Tweaks Team is looking for folks to help paint in 2-hour shifts on Sat., May 22. Simply fill out this volunteer form

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