With the soft opening over the weekend of Joymongers Brewing near the lower end of Fisher Park, the LoFi neighborhood is starting to have all the best kinds of problems — soon we’ll be hearing about parking, noise and rising rents.
But the biggest problem plaguing the city’s newest activated area — home also to Preyer Brewing, Crafted: the Art of Street Food, Deep Roots Market, the Greenway apartment complex and, tangentially, the ballpark — is walkability. Nearby Carrolltown, Roy Carroll’s self-contained, mixed-use project, rises quickly.
The roads that cut through LoFi were designed as outgoing pathways to bring people in and out of downtown, leading to Wendover, Battleground, Murrow and points north. The arterial loops still do the necessary job of pulling traffic away from downtown, but now, with so many places plotted along the thoroughfare described by Battleground, Eugene, Smith and Fisher, people have a reason to pull off the road and get out of the car.
These intersections survived their dormancy without the benefit of easy pedestrian crossings, but now they are necessary — if you don’t believe me, try to walk from Smith Street Diner to Crafted without working up a little sweat.
The Downtown Greenway will help with pedestrian access to LoFi — when it’s all fleshed out, bicycle maybe the best way to get to LoFi from the north — and slowing the traffic flow. But that still leaves a precarious corner on Battleground between Preyer/Crafted and the Greenway Apartments, which should have enough pedestrian traffic between them to at least merit a crosswalk, a Don’t Walk sign and one of those little buttons to activate it. The city is on it, with a redesign of the intersection forthcoming, but I have ideas of my own.
I’m thinking we pop a traffic circle at the intersection of Smith, Battleground and Eugene big enough to divert traffic east to Murrow Boulevard or along the northwesterly Battleground route, because after the greenway runs through LoFi, Eugene Street will be finished as a major outbound street.
It’s too bad. That’s how I get home.