Winter Park, the city that doesn’t nag

Ottawa has many defining characteristics. Some nice, some not so nice.

This site has railed before on the abundance of signs festooning our streets. Even if there is just one parking spot in a bay, our fair city puts a sign up at each end, sometimes one in the middle, and puts up not one, but two bollards just in case the parked motorist mistakes the parking bay for a through lane. When redoing Somerset Street, each block has upwards of sixty signs ! Here’s a single-bay parking space on Somerset with X’s painted for the signs at each end, adding to an already cluttered streetscape:


And here’s some pictures of Winter Park’s inset parking bays. Winter Park, like every other Florida city I visited, large or small, rich or poor, has streetscaping similar to what we see on West Wellington, Preston, or Somerset:

fla jan 2013 081Above: bulb out at a driveway, note the absence of signs telling the motorist that this is the end of the parking spaces. And notice that the cars have to rise up to the undipped sidewalk level in about five feet of boulevard space. Why can Florida motor vehicles make the six inch rise in five feet whereas Ottawa dips sidewalks even when they are set well back from the curb?

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There is a single sign at the start of the parking bay indicating the maximum time one can park.

fla jan 2013 079above: their predilection for putting lamposts in the middle of the sidewalk was annoying.

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The five sided intersection shown above has a minimal number of vertical signal poles, and makes maximum use of the signal arm. Note the lack of drawn-on traffic lanes, the decorative brick paving, and the large inlaid design decorating the entire centre section of the intersection. And surely that clock would distract drivers and cause accidents !  Thunk – the sound of Ottawa traffic engineers falling over in faint at this dangerous road design.

A bit behind Winter Park’s main drag was an urban renewal project — civic offices, library, etc. The sidewalk has a back curb to protect the planting zone. And as will become apparent in the picture below this one, the sidewalk area is raised significantly above the motorist’s road, enhancing the walk experience:

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My suggestion that we try something like this along the to-be-reconstructed Albert Street through the Flats fell … well, flat. And the one raised walk, the multi-user path already on the north side of Albert between Bronson and City Centre Ave, will be rebuilt lower down,  to be flat with the curb. It was nice while it lasted. Too nice, apparently, and the engineers are going to fix that bit of pedestrian niceness.

Elsewhere in Winter Park, sidewalks in residential areas tended to follow house front lot lines and NOT make it to the corner of the street (picture below). This greatly puzzles me: are people only supposed to walk around the block but never to get any further?

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(This is the end of the Winter Park series). Next: new urbanism built from scratch: can it create a successful urban environment?