A Moment For Me: Sherman Avenue Remix and Rewind
I’m apparently the last to discover Streetmix, and I decided to use it for a little design experiment on Sherman Avenue, a recently renovated thorofare near Howard University in DC. The road-diet project is basically finished already, but I would have liked to have seen two things changed: lanes for future streetcar and a northbound bike lane or cycle track, both taking advantage of the topography and its relative importance as a gentler uptown “wiggle” toward higher elevations north of the L’Enfant-era topographic bowl for cyclists and, eventually, rail. Right now there are only sharrows and ample street parking.
Sherman was widened to seven lanes (three travel lanes in each direction plus suicide lane) at some point in the 1950s before being walked back down to three lanes and an occasional median, plus parking. When I lived there, the street environment was so inhospitable, so totally lacking in a sense of security or eyes on the street, that I wouldn’t walk the length of it at night for fear of being mugged, like personal friends and dozens of others had been. (The parallel streets were much better.)
I also thought the somewhat alien quality of the landscape reminded me of the original Super Mario Bros. and would make for a good art project: planting ficuses, fixing rusty copper pipes to the concrete and formstone retaining walls, dangling mystery boxes from the cobra lamps, all but celebrating its challenge and almost cartoonish pedestrian hostility. But the District eventually decided it was interested in making Sherman Avenue more like a real street, not less of one. I can’t really complain about that.