This Dispatch recently featured an article on the Eastmoor neighborhood, which is on the east side of Columbus east of Bexley. Growing up on the northwest side, I rarely visited the east side. I’ve driven through Eastmoor a couple of times, but haven’t spent much time there and don’t know the area well. Based on Streetview, it does indeed look like a nice area with many large, well-kept houses (although I think they could use some sidewalks).
Regardless, I was struck by a comment from Walker on Columbus Underground regarding the condition of Main Street.
Broad Street is nice through this area as well, but Main Street needs a lot of love to be a valuable retail corridor through the area. Too many places boarded up and the street is very heavily car-centric and not a pleasant place for walking or biking.
So I Streetviewed Main Street too:
The differences only become more pronounced the farther you go into Columbus or Bexley.
Which streets look more appealing to you? Where would you rather walk? Where would you rather bike? Where would you rather drive? Where would you rather live? What makes one street more attractive than the other?
I think it’s obvious, but I’ll summarize for you. The Bexley Main Street has lots of large street trees, on-street parking, at least some buildings on corners, no overhead utilities, traffic signals on mast arms instead of span wires, and historic-looking street lights. Columbus provides few trees, no parking, suburban-style buildings, overhead utilities, ugly span wire mounted traffic signals, and freeway-style street lighting.
All of these things contribute to a perceptions of the area and how people use it. Due to Bexley’s street design, I would expect lower traffic speeds, more people walking and biking on Main Street, fewer vacancies, and higher property values. I don’t have data to check all of these things, but I’m pretty sure the last one is correct. If people are voting with their wallets, Bexley is winning.
States and city departments of transportation need to think about the value of a place when they design streets. This apparently hasn’t been done on Main Street in Columbus, despite an excellent example just blocks away.