More than development. Norwalk redevelopment.

Connectivity Strategies

The Connectivity Initiative has developed 9 strategies for better connecting downtown.

>> 1. District Parking

For generations, many cities have provided parking for their downtowns as a way of facilitating commerce and providing amenity for their citizens.  Over time, the relationship between cities, parking, and urban economics has matured significantly, and been studied greatly.  One thing that virtually everyone agrees with is that parking systems must not be chaotic, and that, the more coordination and consistency the better.  An Urban Corridor Parking Plan is being developed as part of the wider Connectivity initiative, for which a survey has been created.

>> Multi-modal transportation alternatives (2. Bicycle, 3. Transit, 4. Pedestrian)

Different trip distances lend themselves to different modes.
When, for example, we make a trip from the living room to the bedroom, most of us leave the car in the garage and just walk.  If, however, we are making a trip from our home in Norwalk to Cape Cod, we won’t attempt to walk there; we’ll load up the car and hit the road.  If Cancun is the destination, we’ll take a flying bus known as an ‘airplane.’
If successful, the plans for downtown Norwalk will create a number of new origins and destinations for Norwalkers — and visitors — all within a corridor less than two miles long. Whether the scenario is one of living-in-Wall-Street-and-working-at-95/7, or of shopping-at-Waypointe-and-eating-in-SoNo, the short distances involved make the deployment of one’s car for such trips a tedious proposition even under optimal traffic conditions. And, from a network standpoint, the more people opt to drive in such cases, the more rare “optimal traffic conditions” will become. Numerous additional car trips in the downtown is not a desirable future for Norwalk traffic.
Therefore, the Connectivity Plan seeks to provide future residents, workers, and visitors in the downtown with transportation alternatives that are compelling enough to achieve a significant dent in future car trips projected within this defined area. Given the distances, it will be their inclination — and ours — to opt out of making those shorter trips in their cars.

Some distances and trips, it is hoped, will appeal to people as good for biking.

Some distances and trips, it is hoped, will lead people to hop on transit.

Some distance and trips, it is hoped, people will simply opt to walk.

>> Easier navigation (5. Streetscape Guidelines, 6. Wayfinding, 7. Complete Streets, 8. Urban Greenery, and 9. Heritage Tourism)

Ever walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, from, say Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn, to the South Street Seaport?  How about Boston’s Freedom Trail, or the National Mall, from the Lincoln Memorial to the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol?  Those are all 2-mile walks.  As it happens, from the South Norwalk Rail Station to the Pulse Point in Wall Street is also a 2-mile walk.  But we never think to walk it.  Certainly, today, there are stretches within the corridor that are lacking in any worthwhile attractions, but apart from that,  the corridor also fails to hang together as a single place; unlike the National Mall or the Freedom Trail, or any other successful district, there’s no sense while you’re in the district that you’re in…a district.  Design can help with that, and the Connectivity Initiative has proposed establishing some design guidelines for the district.  One obvious design feature that guidelines would presumably call for is a consistent and identifiable network of urban greenery.  Another connective downtown design feature, Wayfinding, can also help, by providing people in the district with an understanding of where they are, what’s close by, and where they are relative to the district boundaries.  A more strategic and geographic-conscious approach to marketing can help.  Heritage Tourism, especially when combined with wayfinding, can nudge visitors toward exploring the district as a district.  Finally, streets that accommodate all users are key features of well-connected, successful downtowns, partly because they make those who are navigating downtown in a mode other than car more comfortable doing so, and partly because, as hallmarks of downtown districts, “complete streets” act as landmarks and waypoints, assuring visitors by virtue of their presence that they are in the downtown.  A cousin to “complete streets” is a well-functioning street grid.  Street grids provide network, choices, and alternative routes when the regular or preferred route becomes clogged or closed.