The Brady Street Business Improvement District, located on Milwaukee’s East Side neighborhood, is a good example of a corridor that has been designed with a careful eye on the design process. I enjoy going to Brady Street when I have the time. There are some excellent restaurants and bars along the street, and the district has done a good job of attracting businesses and patrons alike. However, I think a few things could be improved to make the area a bit more pedestrian-friendly:
- A road diet: Vehicles on Brady Street travel a little too fast sometimes, which is probably the result of a low number of stop lights/stop signs. Even though there are some good urban design tenets at use, such as curb bumpouts, the lanes for automobiles should be reduced in width.
- Bicycle lanes: Its shocking to me that there is not a bicycle lane running the length of Brady Street. There is some bicycle infrastructure, such as bicycle racks (although there aren’t enough), but no supporting bicycle lanes. For a relatively dense, already pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, this comes as a surprise. In tandem with a road diet, a bicycle lane in each direction could be added.
Trees: There is only a cluster of trees along a two-block stretch of sidewalk on the south side of Brady Street. Adding trees could improve the visual attractiveness of the area, and it could also slow down vehicles. Tall trees make the perceived width of the street less, making drivers feel as if the street is narrower. This could slow drivers down.Trees also provide shade in the summer and a canopy of sorts that may make pedestrians feel more a part of the street.
- Slow Zone: Brady Street could implement a “slow zone” that reduces the speed limit to 20mph, as is being done in some New York Neighborhoods. This would further make pedestrians feel less at war with automobiles that sometimes drive very quickly down the street.
Brady Street is a great example of a neighborhood that will provide for the needs of its businesses, residents, and visitors for years to come, and is far ahead of many other neighborhoods just now joining the “New Urbanist” bandwagon. Some improvements should be made, however, to ensure that it stays ahead of the game.