Published on: 4/18/2011



A street that runs through a community should be designed and related first of all to the aspects of that community and to function as a “social street,” complementing that social organism through which it flows and to which it becomes a part. Traffic flow is generally counter to making a “social street,” where pedestrians dominate.


Permitted its location, it would be providing place for informal gathering and for people to function affably as in a place that encourages companionship. Traffic engineers may not be sufficiently qualified to seek out nor design “social streets,” even if their task were not assigned to increase the flow of cars.


With a few points here and there yet to be finished, Capitol Drive in Shorewood has now been upgraded, with Federal and State funds, pretty much as a four lane fast moving byway, if not a highway. And perhaps with a good portion of non-community traffic flowing in and out. How much did it cost?


We might ask, what does it add to Shorewood's community character, especially as a “walkable community?” The question is what is its social cost to the community?


We might ask a related question of Oakland Avenue's development process. Shouldn't Oakland be even more of a “social street?” There seems to be less and less avenue about it (an approach usually bordered by trees and other quieting elements).


A greater portion of that $10 million should be devoted to creating “a social street,” including some of those bordering trees, real and sculptured. We need some small “human-scale spaces” that create outdoor entrances to the commercial activities. “Been in Europe? “Seen human-scale open spaces?”


These could be four-season spaces encouraging informal gatherings, so that Oakland becomes more of a “social street,” with affability, encouraging gathering in these spaces. A good portion of the $10 million would be better justified for these purposes. Do we need “a straight Capital Drive street here?”


And do we need a straight wall of buildings detracting from the the “social street” that Oakland could become? Shouldn't we as a community talk about this “social street” before we give up $10 million?  Who are the urban designers on this urban design project?


How about it. Let's sit down. And let's affably talk about a SOCIAL STREET. Let's, as a community talk about what we really want here in our “walkable community.” (Please read my posting, the previous one that leads to this discussion).