Following the guest presentation by Elliot Doza and Alex Beim on the organization of the COTA bus system, it was our job to experience first hand how effective bus travel was in getting to one’s destination. Many people rely heavily on the COTA bus system to get to school, work, and home; therefore our audit of the COTA bus system was very practical.
Our team met on the corner of Woodruff and High at 3:55pm on Thursday afternoon. Our goal was to get from campus to Graeter’s in Bexley and back again in one class period. Because our destination was only 6.6 miles away we believed this was an attainable goal. We began by walking to stop #3957 on N High & 18th Ave. The stop was conveniently situated on the right side of High Street and easily visible. Although there was no shelter, there were some benches for those waiting. On that day a shelter would have been highly appreciated, as it was very cold and windy for the many people waiting at the stop. There were also two big streetlights on either side of the stop that gave off a safe feeling for those waiting.
Our plan was to catch The 18 to High & Broad, get off and catch The 2 the rest of the way into Bexley. Our first road block occurred when the scheduled 3:57pm bus was around 10 minutes late. This initially delayed our travel time. Once on the bus our group easily all found seats, as the bus was just around half way full. Overall the ride was fairly pleasant. The ride was warm, smooth, and relatively quiet. The bus smelled clean and there was not any visible trash from where we were sitting. As we surveyed others riding the bus we saw many had headphones in or were relaxing, as many of them looked to be ending a workday and going home. As previously stated the bus wasn’t full at the time of our ride, but as people began to get on, others were more than willing to make room for available seating. Due to the timing of our ride, it began to get dark outside, however there was sufficient lighting on board without it being too bright. Due to the technology on the bus, riders could request a stop at anytime along the route. While we did agree this was convenient for riders, it also proved to be significantly time consuming as the bus made many stops along our journey, especially through the Short North neighborhood.
Because of this we were delayed in getting to our transfer location on S High St & Capitol Square. Once we made it to our transfer location, we boarded The 2 fairly quickly. Although it was dark outside, the bus stop (#7341) was very pleasant. The shelter was atheistically pleasing and blended in nicely with the surrounding area. The shelter was also lit on both sides, and trashcans were easily located to decrease litter in the area. The 2 was more full than The 18 at this point, however we all managed to find seats. Looking around, we gathered the main demographic of those riding the bus was an older crowd however; two young boys did board the bus with their father at one point. Because most of our group has been in Columbus for quiet sometime, and are familiar with some suburbs we knew for the most part where we where. The 2 was also quiet, however on two different occasions the bus driver began to get very angry at someone because she could hear their music. Although the music was barely heard by any of us, it proved to be a great annoyance and hazard to the driver. When the music was not immediately turned off the driver angrily said she would not continue driving until it was turned off. The passenger complied, and we continued on our way. Eventually around 5pm we got to our destination in Bexley.
After a little under an hour of travel time, we concluded as a group we would not be able to take the bus home. Many of us had class at 5:30 or other obligations that the bus would not get us back in time for. Alternatively, we decided to Uber and got back to campus in 20 minutes instead of an hour. Although this was not the ideal situation, it was necessary given the bus’ travel time. Overall, we concluded taking the bus for short trips would be very effective and easy, however when interested in going further, the length of time and unreliability of the system outweigh the benefits.
2207-209 Neil Avenue
The residences at 2207-209 Neil Avenue are unique and suit for only a certain type of tenants. This house is situated in a good location relative to campus, making it a very close walk to buildings on north campus as well as High Street. However, the only people I could imagine living here are college students because of the many disadvantages that come with this lot. First my team assessed the probable right of way width and came up with the idea that the line probably went from the edge of the street to halfway up into the residents yard. That being said, we measured this length to be 13 feet. The sidewalk took up half of this length with it being 6 feet wide. My team and I then surveyed the lot land and assessed many of the lots measurements. The lot dimensions were 30 feet by 100 feet while we estimated the house took up close to 90% of the lot. If this were the case we would estimate the house to be 2700 square feet. The building took up so much of the lot coverage that it left little to no space for setbacks. We measured the front setback to be 12 feet leaving a very sparse grassy area in front of the house. The side set back measured to be much less at only 56 inches. This very narrow distance between houses affects both neighbors quality of life with a lack of privacy and noise separation. Luckily the majority, if not all the tenants on this street are college students, so they understand what entails with a lot like this. One of the biggest appealing factors to a lot like this is the cost. What comes with living here is subsidized greatly by the cheap costs the occupants pay each month. One of the biggest things that stuck out to me as a disadvantage to living here was the parking, and the surrounding land use on Neil Avenue. Residents park their vehicles behind their house which is beneficial to get cars off the streets, however the parking lot that they use is backed up to alley ways and shared between the surrounding buildings behind the residence. One of the unique aspects to living in 2207-209 is the surrounding commercial land use. This residence marks the transition between commercial buildings to residential buildings. To the left of the property is a bar, while to the right begins the residential neighborhood. While, behind the property is a very tall apartment building separated by a worn down parking lot and many dumpsters. In conclusion, the area of land that is situated on 2207-209 seemed to be originally intended for commercial use only, however the demand for more residential buildings off campus began to grow making 2207-209 the dividing building between these two uses. Although this house would be easy on the average college student to afford, it comes with harsh factors that would have a big impact on quality of life.
As my team and I walked along Norwich Avenue, the street proved to be the typical off campus residential neighborhood. This neighborhood planner’s goal was to utilize as much space as possible on this street, while this may mean the residents quality of life would be affected. When looking at the safety of this street it was apparent there needed to be more streetlights to provide for better lighting for those walking along the street at night. My team and I estimated the distance between lights to be around 150 feet apart. The only utilities my team and I noticed were the above ground power lines and phone lines running in between the streetlights. We noticed no utilities on the ground outside of houses because of the lack of space and negative effect this would have on the residents living there. As my team stood on the east side of Norwich looking west, we noticed the character of the neighborhood improved with wider setbacks between houses and the street, while houses on that side were also provided driveways to get cars off the street. Moving from east to west, the character proved to be more relaxed rather than crowded and overwhelming.
Norwich Avenue Street Width and Sidewalks
The width of Norwich Avenue proves to be problematic for the residents living on that street. We measured the street to be only 28 feet wide, but the main problem comes with the fact that people park on both sides of the street, only allowing cars to travel in a one way direction. If the street were wider and accommodated for parking on both sides, people would be able to drive both directions without a problem. Making the street wider would also improve the character and give it a more relaxed, spread out feeling that would be more attractive for people to live. Residents have no other choice to park on the street because of the lack of driveways, however this dramatically affects traffic as well as provides a higher chance of crime and theft because of cars being on the street. When assessing Norwich, my team and I also measured the width of sidewalks to be a mere 4 feet wide. This very skinny sidewalk doesn’t allow for people to walk comfortably side by side and also contributes to the very cramped residential area on Norwich.
Setbacks on Norwich
The front and side setbacks on Norwich measured to be dramatically less than the setbacks on Norwood. While we measured and assessed a particular house (pictured below) on the corner or Williams and Norwich to have front and side set backs of 10 feet each, houses across the street had side setbacks of only a few feet (picture 2 below) making it difficult for someone to even walk in between the two houses.
128-134W Norwich Av 128-134W
The building situated on the corner of Williams and Norwich is different from the houses across the street. With a larger residential building that appears to be condos or apartments, the character and flow of the neighborhood is disrupted and fails to be uniform. This gives a sense of confusion and lack of planning that affects the rest of the street.
Williams Street and Unnamed Alley
It seems a bit strange because the lot is organized in a way that blocks in half the cars. The lot could be easily reconfigured to prevent this ad many residents do this on their own because the parking lot was not heavily populated. Having such a high density and constricting parking lot is unnecessary because of the large amount of street parking available.
Northwood Ave and Williams Street
The wall acts to keep pedestrians off of the private property, giving the residents of the apartment complex more privacy from the street. It also hides the parking lot from immediate view, giving a little more security to the car owners and adding to the buildings curb appeal.
Northwood Ave Measurements
Width of Northwood Ave: 30’
South sidewalk: 5’
North sidewalk: 6’
The north sidewalk is more pleasant to walk on because there’s more space and a hill separating the sidewalk from the house. The one way streets are good for a residential neighborhood like this because it creates more parking for the residents and while it can be confusing at first the majority of the traffic in that area will be people who live nearby so they would be very familiar with the area.
Average Front Setback on Northwood
The front setback is about 25 ft. while the side setback is about 5-10 ft. It looked to be a nice neighborhood, the sidewalks were not very well cared for and the houses were not decorated or unique but it was very clean and quiet during the day.
2244 Neil Ave
While it might seem out of place to have a small business office among the nearby houses, the building fits in nicely with the surrounding area. It’s about the same height and size of the nearby buildings and made of brick similarly to many of the houses in that neighborhood.
The current owner told us a brief history of the house so that we know it was originally a grocery store with apartments upstairs. Today it is a realtor’s office. The building could easily be made into a convenience store or an auto body shop pretty easily with space for tenants upstairs if it fell under new ownership. Its official zoning designation is likely low-density mixed use.
We thought the paving of the ground all the way to the sidewalk was a bad move because it wastes space, is hot in the summer, and is pretty desolate to be around. There’s no parking in the front of the building and you cannot pull into the parking lot from Lane Ave so that there’s no reason for it to be paved for car accessibility. The building is also set back from the street about 20 ft. and since there is no sidewalk to lead customers to the entrance the paving isolates the building instead of appealing to people walking on Lane. The dark pavement also is hot and uncomfortable in the summer and adds to rainwater runoff making it environmentally wasteful. A better option would to tear out the pavement, add a sidewalk, a bioswale or buffer vegetation and possibly a small patio.