Your weekend in Tactical Urbanism begins tonight in Shelby Park. Two major events—Shelby Park Better Block and CycLOUvia Three Points—are set to transform how we interact with streets in Louisville. And it looks like this could be one of the most intense urban interventions Louisville has seen.
Tonight, Friday, May 12 from 5:00p.m. to 9:00p.m., head down to Oak Street at Logan Street to get a first-hand experience of what a not-so-distant Shelby Park could look like. With help from the community, the street has been completely transformed.
Then Saturday, May 13 from 10:00a.m. to 8:00p.m., head back down for more Better Block, and, later, an Open Streets program.
Did you know? CycLOUvia was made from the Spanish word Ciclovía, which means “bikeway.” It comes from Bogotá, Colombia, where one of the earliest Open Streets projects has been running every Sunday for decades.
CycLOUvia is back between 2:00p.m. and 6:00p.m., shutting down a circuit of streets including Goss Avenue, and Logan and Shelby streets till Mary Street.
Both of these events combined should bring the crowds to test out the new street improvements and see what works and what doesn’t. Throughout Better Block tonight and tomorrow, local bands will provide entertainment and food trucks will be on hand. (Here’s a schedule.) Many more local businesses will be joining in along the CycLOUvia route as well.
You’ll also get a chance to check out Shelby Park’s crowdfunded, FirstBuild-built bus stop concept, installed at Logan and Oak. Another small-scale improvement adding up in the neighborhood. But if you rely on TARC buses in the corridor of Goss Avenue, Shelby Street, or Logan, you’ll want to catch up with service changes here and here. And plan to leave your car at home!
Better Block is overseen by the Center for Neighborhoods (CFN) and was funded by Louisville Forward, the Shelby Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA), New Directions Housing Corporation, and Lowe’s Home Improvement . CycLOUvia, Louisville’s contribution to the Open Streets movement, is put on by Metro Louisville with local partners.
Volunteers from CFN have been busy for months planning the event. A community design workshop was held on March 25 where a crowd gathered to re-imagine the street. A lot of great ideas were generated by four teams. This week, more volunteers put in sweat equity to bring the project to life.
Using Better Blocks’s new wiki of buildable temporary furniture and donations from local companies, the area is looking pretty sharp. Some of the interventions you’ll find include parklets, expanded sidewalks and street trees, seating, and a public space theater.
Both Better Block and Open Streets are national programs aimed at redefining how we interact with and use public space. Like Park(ing) Day, ReSurfaced, and the Alley Gallery, they fall under the umbrella of tactical urbanism. That movement seeks small-scale, temporary fixes that lead to long-term change. Get enough people rethinking our streets and public spaces, and the ideas start flying.
Louisville has plenty of experience with these programs already. Open Streets has been going on since 2012, and they’re popular on several corridors around town. This is its second appearance in the Three Points area. The Urban Design Studio also hosted a Better Block event a couple years ago imagining a rebuilt Kenton Place median park on East Market Street as part of a Tactical Urbanism Salon. CFN brought Dallas-based Better Block founder Jason Roberts to town last year to headline its annual Neighborhood Summit.
Shelby Park, notably among Louisville neighborhoods, has embraced tactical urbanism. A robust collection of murals have made its streets a veritable art gallery. And more are planned thanks to groups like Three Points Beautification. The aforementioned bus stop is another good example, and the SPNA is exploring how to make its neighborhood streets two-way once again to promote safety and business.
Let us know what you think of this year’s Better Block and CycLOUvia. What would you like to see happen to Shelby Park’s streets to make them more inviting for people? And you know the drill: send your photos to the tip line.