Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Special event security planning and street fairs

You can tell from this photo of the carnage at the Berlin Christmas Market that there were not vehicle crash barriers set up along the side of the street/ backing up to the market. Reuters photo.

Recent reports of terrorist acts using motor vehicles to plow into crowds killing and injuring many at public events in Berlin, Beijing, and in the summer in Nice, France ("Truck attacks in Berlin and Nice reflect change in Islamic State tactics," Guardian) always reminds me of running farmers markets in Brookland, and the day an older man plowed through the sawhorses blocking the street because he saw no reason to prevent him from proceeding to CVS.

Fortunately, the market was over for the day, and who knows, maybe if there had been people in the street he would have stopped.

That wasn't what happened in 2003 in Santa Monica ("Ten Years After Tragic Crash, States No Closer To Solving Elderly Driving Problems," Autoblog) where 10 people died in a similar situation--an aged person driving through the crowded market.

There have been similar casualty events at street fairs since then ("Car Plows Into D.C. Street Festival, Injuring 35," Fox News).

In response, most communities have upped their traffic control requirements to include hardier barriers. But many times, events are allowed to slough off the requirements because of the cost.

In DC, street closures are supposed to be executed using water filled Jersey barriers.

They are expensive to rent (but relatively cheap to buy depending on how many you need) and at least the last time I had to close a street, DDOT would fill up the barriers for free, using their water truck--a filled barrier has almost 2,000 gallons of water.

But I have noticed that various street closures don't always use such an apparatus.

And neither does Eastern Market's weekend street closures--although for years I've recommended the installation of retractable bollards in the street at 7th Street and North Carolina Avenue, and at C Street (eventually I would like to see them installed at Pennsylvania Avenue SE too).

Retractable bollards installed in a street.

It appears that neither Jersey Barriers or bollards were part of the security plan for either the Christmas Market in Berlin or the farmers market in suburban Beijing.

It would have been hard to put them all along the route in Nice, but at various places, barriers could have been installed and this might have thwarted the attack there.

Street fairs and similar events must pay more attention to emergency preparedness on this dimension.

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At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7th street down to Pa Avenue should be kept pedestrianized- even if it is only on weekends as it stands now- and especially with the new Hines development done-the whole area around eastern market is a kind of commerce zone and this would enhance its attraction. Bollards should be put into place on Pa Ave at 7th street and also along C street and at the top of 7th by North Carolina.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I agree. Years ago I suggested that the special street treatment in front of Eastern Market be extended not only to Pennsylvania Ave., but across it and around Eastern Market Metro Plaza.

I've suggested retractable bollards for a couple years. My understanding is that the block of C St. on the Hine site will use them.

... we need to bring up again the idea of the pavement change. Not thinking clearly, the chair of EM's capital improvements committee says that the street should be special only directly in front of the market, not recognizing the value of "follow[ing] the yellow brick road."

2. the other thing years ago a vendor said something that really stuck with me. He made the point that Eastern Market is a special event every weekend (at least in the temperate months).

But our security and other planning and operations don't acknowledge that and take the appropriate steps.

... I've known about the Santa Monica incident of course for years and years. But it was experiencing something similar, but with no negative consequences fortunately, that has made me conscious of this type of problem for a long long time.

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes- security bollards need to be in place not just for deliberate attacks but also for elderly and distracted drivers- I myself was almost knocked down last month by an elderly guy in an SUV rounding a corner and not seeing me cross- I got away in the nick of time- and a neighbor who saw the whole event unfold was horrified but didn't act in time to take down the license plate. Capitol Hill has MANY elderly drivers- in fact an entire generation of people came here in the late 60's thru the 70's renovating homes and buildings- and now these people are in their 70's- 90's and sometimes get confused driving. Not to mention tourists who are ALWAYS lost in the city and drive down one way streets the wrong direction, etc. Let's be realistic here...its a busy area and a lot of pedestrians mulling about with a lot of people from nearby 'burbs and those stopping for a croissant or coffee before driving home to PG make for tricky walking around EM

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Story from Der Speigel on what happened in Berlin:


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