Planned Neighborhood: COTA Transit Audit

Our group, Planned Neighborhood, was scheduled to start our journey at the bus stop on 11th Avenue and High Street at 3:55pm. As most of us walked down High Street, a COTA bus passed us going southbound. Most of the group arrived at the stop around 3:53, and there was no bus to be found. We soon realized that the #2 line was running nearly 4 minutes early and that we had barely missed the 3:55 bus that we intended on taking. The stop was decently kept with benches, a shelter to protect from the elements, trashcans, disabled user seating, and schedules to update riders. The stop felt safe in the afternoon, however, would have minimal lighting for the evening time.


IMG_20151116_225434[1] IMG_20151116_225428[1]

The next bus that arrived showed up at 4:09 pm.  This was six minutes later than was posted. At this point our trip has lasted for around 14 minutes and we had just gotten onto the bus. As we entered, the driver greeted us and was very polite. The bus was very crowded with barely any standing room in either the front or the back.  There were passengers riding that were from many walks of life, varying in age, race, and perceived socioeconomic status. The sounds of the bus were those of private conversations, which gave an overall muffling sound. A lightboard at the front of the bus gave the date, time of day, and the name of the upcoming stop, which was accompanied by an automated audio recording. This feature made it very simple to recognize where we were along the route. The bus was crowded and loud, but well lit. The smell was moderately stale with the fragrance of sweat, food, or colognes and the seats had fabric coverings. Most riders looked tired as we descended downtown, probably due to long day of work. We rode the #2 line for a few stops, enjoying the city scenes and the company of its residents. The only time the bus remained at a scheduled stop for an unreasonable amount of time was when a disabled elderly woman with a walker took time to board the bus and pay fees, and then was unable to settle in the designated disability spot on the bus due to crowding. We exited the bus on the intersection of Broad and High St.

IMG_20151116_225351[1]The stop was well kept, much nicer than the original stop. There were plenty of covered benches to sit, trashcans, route schedules, and it was very well lit. We all felt very safe and were aware of our surroundings. The connecting #7 line came immediately after we stepped off of the #2 line bus. The #7 was much less crowded than the previous bus. This model of bus was slightly older but was kept very nice over time. The smell was not as stale as the other bus, probably because there were a few windows cracked. The driver was polite as we entered the front doors, asking us how our day had been and making casual conversation. The bus was moderately lit, which could make some passengers feel uneasy, as one side was irregularly dark during transit. Although there were fewer riders on this line, the vehicle was much louder due to the nature of the younger kids riding. We continued on our journey as we approached the outskirts of the German Village. We arrived at our destination within minutes; the Post Office near Whittier and Parsons Ave. Our Arrival time was approximately 4:52, indicating that the first leg of our trip took nearly 40-45 minutes.



It was time to head home. We decided that the easiest route to take home would be to ride the #7 line all the way back to campus. The next bus would come at 5:03. The stop that connected us to the returning line was poor in quality. The stop was marked by a sign. It was a chilly evening and with the wind blowing we stood in the cold, as there was no covered shelter to sit under. Next to the stop, there was a brunch delicatessen with an awning in front of the front door, where members of our group took shelter from the wind, not boding well for the business’ appearance. IMG_20151116_225344[1]IMG_20151116_225333[1]At night this stop would be a little unsettling, especially for someone who wasn’t familiar with the area. Finally, the #7 line returning to campus arrived. It pulled in 4 minutes late leaving us with a departure time of 5:07. This bus was calm. Only a few  additional riders were on the bus back. These riders were reading, listening to music, or just sitting quietly alone. The bus was one of the older models but, again, well kept. It didn’t have an overwhelming smell or sound, just the hum of the bus wheels turning. The driver greeted us politely as we entered, but you could tell that he was getting tired. We continued on our path back to campus. Passing stops here and there. We eventually arrived back at the Ohio Union around 5:35pm. Nearly two hours had elapsed from when we departed, to when we finished.  Overall, we were happy to see how easy it was to make it to our destination; we were unimpressed however by how long the routes took. The COTA is a great resource for Columbus residents. One who plans on using the transportation should always be early to ensure that they will make their bus, as schedules can be somewhat unreliable. Likewise, the COTA transit system is not an option for someone on a time crunch; had we been riders who depended on public transportation, we would have arrived significantly late to any event we had scheduled at the intended return time of 5:15pm. There was also a notable problem of crowding on the #2 line at the beginning of our journey, which made it difficult to board/find seating/get off the bus, especially for elderly or disabled riders. Overall, the COTA system is taking strides in city transportation but could use tweaking to make it more equitable and timely.

The Diamond Developers: “MAPS Mini” Blog #7

When The Diamond Developers went through and scored the intersection of Tuttle Park Place and Norwich Avenue, the segment of Norwich Avenue up to High Street, and then the intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street, a total of 7/21 (33%) points were given. The main concern was the intersections, since neither provided any means of safely crossing. Both lacked a signal, a crosswalk, or any signage to alert drivers of the possibility of pedestrians. The segment on Norwich Avenue, however, was relatively safe to travel for pedestrians, but a lack of transit stops and bike path would prove to be an inconvenience for some people.

The intersection of Tuttle Park Place and Norwich Avenue.

The intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street.

The intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street.

What was missing from the MAPS mini? What did you keep wanting to report, but didn’t find on the survey tool?

The MAPS mini useful in evaluating the sidewalks and the street crossings, but the group felt that a longer evaluation would do a better job in assessing the area. The group would have liked to see more questions on the walkability of not just the segment, but leading up to the segment. Specifically, parts of Tuttle Park Place is walking in the alley with no sidewalk, which the group wanted to report. Additionally, the group felt that some of the responses were too vague, and left too much room for ambiguity. For example, the responses for well maintained buildings had two options, 0-99%, and 100%. There was not a lot of room for a gray area.

Did you find public realm mattered more or less to you than private realm? Why?

The Diamond Developers feels that the public realm mattered more than the private realm in this survey. Most of the questions dealt with how the street and sidewalks are, with only one focusing on the buildings. The questions were focused on walkability rather than the aesthetics of the private property. This is good, since people walking and biking by would likely be more concerned with their safety than with how a certain house looks. A planner, in return, should focus more on the upkeep of the sidewalks and the safety in crossing streets.

What issues do you think would be more important to community members as opposed to planners?

The Diamond developers feel that community members would be more concerned with how the sidewalk is lit, how it is kept, and how they can cross a street. For people traveling, the group feels that they would be interested in how easy it is to get from point A to point B, more so than how the surrounding private property is. However, a planner may be more concerned with how the sidewalks interact with the private property, while keeping safety as a top priority.

Urban Avengers: MAPS-Mini

In the opinion of the Urban Avengers, the MAPS-Mini Survey had many weaknesses and only partially fulfilled its purpose. One of the most important shortcomings was that the survey did not ask about traffic pattern — which has a huge effect on the way a street should be utilized. DSC00444The survey also did not ask about what kind of commercial and residential uses the segment included. The use of the street can influence what should be in place there, and if it serves a purpose. The difference between the two should have an effect on how they are scored. The walkability to things such as parks and/or transit stops should be incorporated into the survey. While the need for a transit stop or park on every segment of street is not necessarily needed, the distance from one to the next should be considered. While the survey asked many questions, for several of the questions, a concise answer could not be given. DSC00447Throughout the segment the streetscape changes and the answers aren’t always clear-cut yes or no answers, but frequently could be both.

Throughout the walk the group wanted to report of the quality of buildings. The question of “Are the buildings well maintained?” does not address quality. The group also wanted to include the presence (or lack of) gardens into consideration. The environmental backdrop of the street is also important; a street in a college town should look different than a downtown street. Another item the group wanted to report, but the survey did not ask, was whether the road had parking, and whether it was a one-way or two-way traffic pattern.

We found that the public and private realms mattered about the same. If either of the realms are in poor condition it brings down the other.DSC00448

The realms should be created equal because they coexist in the same area. If you have a beautiful park next to a rundown home, it makes the park look worse and brings down the appeal of the environment. But the public realm means more physically to the pedestrian, when the private means more to the psyche.

The idea of planners having a different mindset than the community members should not be the case. The purpose of this survey is to help the street for the community, to think like a community member. But we feel that graffiti is highly important to community members, graffiti gives a bad image for the community. Also the lighting of the streets shows importance on safety, which is of major importance in a community. Lastly, we feel that community members are likely to be more focused on safety and image of the streetscape, rather than things like buffers or tree coverage.

Explore Nation: Assignment 7 “MAPS Mini”

    We found the MAPS Mini survey tool to be helpful, but we thought that a few questions could be added to it. This would include questions about pedestrian traffic, car traffic (including the amount, speed, and direction), trash on the street/sidewalks, and the size of the sidewalk. We also thought that the current survey needed more multiple choice options within the existing questions.

The intersection of Neil and Norwich, looking east, where you can see a lack of crosswalks and cross signals.

The intersection of Neil and Norwich, looking east, where you can see a lack of crosswalks and cross signals.

The dangerous intersection of Norwich and High, where streets aren't aligned straight, vehicular traffic travels at least 35 mph, and there are no crosswalks or cross signals.

The dangerous intersection of Norwich and High, where streets aren’t aligned straight, vehicular traffic travels at least 35 mph, and there are no crosswalks or cross signals.

Looking down Norwich, a west-bound one way street with one lane of vehicular traffic, no specified bicycle lanes, and no crosswalks painted.

Looking down Norwich, a west-bound one way street with one lane of vehicular traffic, no specified bicycle lanes, and no crosswalks painted.

We felt that the public realm mattered more than the private realm because of the wording of the survey questions, the actual experience of walking on the sidewalk, and the lack of interaction with the surrounding residential buildings.

The actual functionality of the streets would matter more to the residents rather than planners. For example, we couldn’t cross High St. because there was no cross walk and the traffic was too dangerous. Community members would most likely want safer streets, meaning slower vehicular traffic and planned crosswalks that are at important crossing points.

MAPS-Mini – New Kids on the Block


  1. What is missing from MAPS-Mini? What did you keep wanting to report but didn’t find on the survey tool?

We found that the MAPS-Mini never asked about the presence of street parking and if it was adequate for the street (too much, too little or just enough). We also wanted to report on the density of the street. The houses were quite close together, limiting privacy and sight-lines, we think this important to the audit.

  1. Did you find the public realm (streets/sidewalks) mattered more or less to you than private realm (buildings/parking lots)? Why?

We found the public realm mattered more to us. We saw some improvements to be made to the sidewalks. In between the two intersections the overall quality of the paths were decent, however we found many issues at the intersections. A few of these were the lack of crosswalks, ramps, truncated domes and appropriate signage/signals for crossing. Recent attempts of improvements may have made more problems because of incomplete crosswalks, tripping hazards, uneven ground and dead-end sidewalks.


cross4 (crosswalk and sidewalk future-model)

  1. What issues do you think would be more important to community members as opposed to planners?

We think street lighting, parking and condition of sidewalks are more important to community members. For planners, we think they would be more concerned with adding bike areas, outdoor public seating, buffers and the overall set up of both intersections. The intersection of Norwich and Tuttle is specifically concerning with the trip hazards, cut-off sidewalk and lack off crosswalks. The intersection of Norwich and High is disjointed and puts cyclists and pedestrians at risk. The addition of a high-visibility crosswalk, with ladder design, in-street signs and overhead signs and beacons would limit the danger to the public.


12207497_10101220621970981_1379030634_o (Norwich and High)high_norwich(High-visibility crosswalk solution)

12204867_10101220622030861_48517218_n(Norwich and High)

cross2(Crosswalk model)

solution1(High-visibility crosswalk)12209167_10101220622699521_1078021933_o



(Norwich and Tuttle)