Coxe Avenue transformed for ‘tactical urbanism’ multimodal exercise

Coxe Avenue Street Mural

Drone photo by Justin Mitchell

Have you visited Coxe Avenue recently? You will find it has changed, and in an interesting way.


Colorful temporary active transportation improvements were installed on the downtown street the weekend of Nov. 3-4 in a multimodal collaboration project called “Tactical Urbanism.”


Though the use of planters, paint and street “armadillos,” the designs incorporate more places for pedestrians and bicyclists, places to walk your dog or stroll with the family. It’s a wide street, so there’s still plenty of room for cars. The point is to make the corridor more accessible to multiple modes of transportation.


Asheville City Council approved the partnership project during its Oct. 9 meeting. The partners, who have dubbed themselves the Street Tweaks Team, included Asheville on Bikes, AARP and the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club.


Of note, the Street Tweaks Partnership raised $150,000 to fund the design and building of this project. The City has not contributed any funding to this process, but there are in-kind contributions in the form of staff time, traffic counts and general assistance.


So what is “Tactical Urbanism” anyway? It is a term used to describe a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to streets and sometimes neighborhoods, intended to test what might work best when considering permanent enhancements.


“This is a chance to try before you buy a street design,” said Asheville Assistant Transportation Director Jessica Morriss. “The installation can be adjusted during this testing period to find out what works best. Then we can incorporate what works into the ultimate street design.”


Currently, the City has funding from the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to kickstart the Coxe Avenue redesign. Funding for the construction has not yet been identified.


The Street Tweaks team came together again Nov. 10-11, to tweak the colorful design. Since it was raining during installation, some touchup paint was needed. 


The partnership portion, collaboration, has been gratifying to Mike Sule of Asheville on Bikes.


“Rather than just hosting events and publishing policy positions, Asheville on Bikes wants to demonstrate what’s possible and we can’t do it alone,” Sule said. “Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and AARP supported our tactical urbanism approach and so the organizations formed the Asheville Street Tweaks Team.”


Swing by — particularly on foot or bike — and see how the new Coxe Avenue works for you.


Related: Coxe Avenue Tactical Urbanism Project Memorandum of Understanding