In Partnership with the Barr Foundation
Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery
A dilemma facing communities right now is how to reopen while keeping residents safe through physical distancing. In a time when we’re required to maintain physical distance to protect public health, streets need to do more than ever.
Streets must be configured so that people are able to move safely and provide space so people can safely access food, essential services, and businesses.
There are quick, affordable, flexible adaptations you can make to your public spaces right now as an emergency measure and that will play also an important role throughout the pandemic recovery for the next 12 to 18 months.
Simple changes = a big difference
Driving has dropped off in many communities, so now is a good time to share our streets. Here are some examples of simple changes that can make a big difference:
- Narrow lanes to both slow traffic and provide space so people can safely walk in the the street where sidewalks are too crowded.
- Offset parking from the curb to create a widened sidewalk to provide safe space for walking.
- Expand space to walk or bike by eliminating curbside parking temporarily.
- Provide curbside drop-off/pick-up zones on in business districts.
- Designate unused street space and parking lots for outdoor restaurant and store use.
- Make walking safer by adjusting signal timing and automating pedestrian push buttons.
- Allow neighbors to apply for a quick permit to set up a DIY neighborhood slow street.
Foundation support for streets for pandemic response and recovery
Once you’ve begun to identify your community’s specific needs and begun to get buy-in from municipal decision makers, we can help you plan and launch pilots (see below for more details on what we can help with). Some of the first steps will likely be:
- Collaborating with key municipal staff to get their input.
- Giving neighbors a heads up that this is coming.
- Choosing streets that serve neighborhoods most in need.
- Designing a pilot project(s) and lining up needed materials.
- Choosing a date(s) for your pilots and setting them up.
- Observing how it goes and making adjustments.
- Documenting your successes and lessons learned.
- Beginning to build out longer term solutions.
A successful quick-build Shared Street effort should not take long to launch but will take thoughtful planning tailored to the unique needs of each community. We can help you do this by providing technical assistance and grant funding. For more design guidance, NACTO and Streets Plans’ Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery Guide is a great resource as well. We are also developing checklists, how-to guides, and case studies. Stay tuned.
The Solomon Foundation can help your municipality plan for and pilot shared streets by providing technical assistance and $5,000 to $10,000 of grant funding to support these kinds of activities:
- Professional coaching on how to set up a response program.
- Contract with a transportation or wayfinding consultant for planning and design services.
- Hire a locally based project manager.
- Purchase supplies for a pilot project.
- Hire a volunteer manager to help build and deploy materials for your project.
- Hire people to document the project and evaluate its impact.
*Note: We can provide a grant to a municipality or a nonprofit partnering with a municipality to hire a consultants and staff directly or, in some cases we can hire a consultant group on your behalf to accelerate the process. We cannot pay staff or casual wages for work on these projects.
Eligibility and how to apply
Municipalities and/or non-profits in partnership with municipalities are eligible to apply. Priority will be given for projects that can be delivered quickly and that will benefit communities that have been most affected by COVID-19.
If you are interested, let us know. We are happy to answer questions or talk through your ideas together. Then when you are ready, please email our Program Manager, Allison Burson a short proposal for a streets for response and recovery initiative in your community. In your 1-2 page description please:
- Tell us about places in your community where people can’t walk or bike or travel safely or places where there’s crowding and people need more space.
- Describe the vulnerable populations you wish to serve. These groups may include older adults, communities of color, or low-income communities most impacted by the pandemic.
- Identify who you are working with on this (i.e. elected officials, city departments, non-profit groups, community groups, neighbors)
- Create a simple map showing the possible location and size of your proposed project(s)
We will accept applications on a rolling basis and may reach out to you for a phone call or zoom meeting for more information. After that, if we choose to move forward, we will work with you to refine a project plan and budget. Though not a requirement, we would prefer to see our funding matched dollar for dollar or, if that is not possible, with an in-kind match of staff time, volunteer hours, and/or donated materials.