Grand Rapids has been designed vehicle-first. How do we undo this infrastructure?
Extra-wide residential streets. Drivers failing to yield at any of the various pedestrian crossing signals that have been installed.
We all talk about wanting to be pedestrian-first, and every person who loves Grand Rapids loves to talk about Chicago in the same breath. But we aren't Chicago, nor should we ever be. I'd love to see us take our own identity and do it right, but we have to undo a lot of infrastructure from decades of city-center abandonment and rebuilding.
Think about it: Chicago river. NYC harbor. San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. Portland's bridges and boat rides to various areas of town. Jacksonville's iconic bridges (thanks, Limp Bizkit).
What did we do with our iconic river running through our center-city? We built a highway overtop it. The S-curve is so wide and so perspective-shifting that as someone who has lived here for 15 years, I often challenge myself when driving through that stretch to determine which side of the highway the river is actually on. Often times I couldn't even tell you. And I happen to work at the top floor of a 100 year old building that sits just 5 feet off of the curve.
Articles from StrongTowns always get me thinking about this: