Call To Action: Respond to City of Asheville’s “AVL Shares Space 2021 Survey”

City of Asheville Shared Streets Program
Diners on Wall Street access outdoor space provided as part of the AVL Shares Space program. Photo: City of Asheville

It’s time to provide feedback on the City of Asheville’s implementation of shared streets and temporary parklets. The City is calling this new survey, “AVL Shares Space 2021 Survey.” It’s your chance to weigh in on the land use portion of the City’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Keep reading to see our list of suggested responses to their survey; you can take the survey by clicking this link. The survey is open through Sept. 20, 2021.

As background, AoB published a series of articles and letters to push the City to roll out a network of slow speed streets, commerce/pedestrian zones, and parklets. This call included a petition that circulated broadly, signed by 8 Organizations, 34 Businesses, and 220 Individuals. Of the three ideas, the City mostly delivered temporary parklets. Here are our background materials for your review:

AoB encourages you to respond to the survey and incorporate our suggestions into your response in order to further advance the prioritization of moving people safely throughout our city. AoB provides survey guidance for a limited number of questions as not all questions deal with issues of active transportation and user safety. 

Asheville on Bikes’ Recommended Responses

Below are screenshots of the questions and AoB’s recommended responses. Please complete the survey and share our guidance throughout your circles to intensify support for continued investment in active transportation facilities. 

Initiatives 1 & 2 ask for your input regarding “Shared Streets and/or Temporary Parklets”

survey initiatives 1 and 2

The 3rd question of Initiatives 1 & 2  asks: “Have Shared Streets and/or Parklets impacted your experience of feeling safer and in alignment with public health guidelines during COVID-19?”

AVL Survey question 3

Answer: “Helped me feel much safer” The goal is to highlight that people oriented streets promote safety. 

The 4th question of Initiatives 1 & 2 asks: Have Shared Streets and/or Parklets influenced your decision(s) to access local goods and services during COVID-19?

AVL Survey Question 4

Answer: “It very much encouraged me to access local goods/services,” because the goal is to highlight the connection between shared streets and business. 

The 5th and 6th question of Initiatives 1 & 2  asks “What do you like most about the temporary Shared Streets and/or Parklets?” and “What do you like least, what would you change.” 

survey initiatives 1 and 2

AVL Survey 5 and 6

Answer: The city has prioritized the safe and predictable movement of pedestrians above all other modes through a tactical urbanism approach. I encourage the city to continue this program and expand on it by working with a variety of partners (like Asheville on Bikes) to design, build, and implement more space for the safe and predictable movement of people.  

AVL Survey what would you like to change

Answer: So far, “AVL Shares Space” is limited to just the central business district and focused on supporting businesses. I encourage the city to intensify its shared streets approach and build a series of  shared street networks to connect  neighborhoods into downtown and to each other to encourage biking and walking throughout Asheville. Emphasize ADA and inclusive design. Embrace the need of people who are differently abled. Consider Asheville on Bike’s circulator concept and build a variety of quick build complete streets into Asheville so that people aren’t overly reliant on cars to get into town. 

Question 7 of Initiatives 1 & 2 asks: “Are you supportive of continuing the Shared Streets and/or Parklet program longer term?

AVL Survey question 7

Answer: ‘very supportive,’ because shared streets are something that should transcend the pandemic. Let city leaders know that pedestrian facilities and safety are a long term asset to our community. 

Question 8 of Initiatives 1 & 2 asks: “If you are supportive of continuing the Shared Streets and/or Parklet program longer term, how much of a factor is the COVID-19 pandemic?” 

AVL Survey Q8

Answer: “Not at all a factor,” because it’s critical to document that shared streets are valued beyond the pandemic. We want our streets to work for people for the long run and not just the short term pandemic restrictions. 

Question 9 of Initiatives 1 & 2 asks: “Would you like to see Shared Streets and/or Parklets other locations in Asheville? If so, where?” 

AVL Survey Q9

Answer: “Yes, I’d like to see shared streets expanded throughout the City to areas like West Asheville’s Haywood Rd, the River Arts District, and Biltmore Village. I’d like to see the City embrace Asheville on Bike’s Circulator concept which would allow for more walking and biking into the city as that concept creates pathways for active transportation. The current plan is inadequate because it does not include any slow streets or traffic calming to create safer transportation connections for me to go to and from my neighborhood to reach the places I need to go. Integrate AoB’s circulator concept to build a network of shared streets into town from surrounding communities.

Initiative 4 focuses on the use of sidewalks 

AVL Survey Initiative 4

The 3rd question of Initiative 4 asks: “What do you like least, or what would you change about outdoor dining (or merchandise) on sidewalks?

AVL Survey I4 Question 3

Answer: When business extends onto the sidewalk, it often obstructs or limits pedestrian movements therefore as this initiative continues, greater emphasis should be placed on the pedestrian experience. Prioritize universal design principles so that shared streets work for those who are most vulnerable and differently abled.