Tactical fixes that work

Sometimes the cost and complexity of making streets safer and more comfortable for riding a bike and walking can seem overwhelming. Curbs, drainage, and repaving are costly and take a long time to implement, so it’s easy to get caught in analysis paralysis and do nothing. But there are some great examples of simple, inexpensive fixes that work.

Barrels of flowers

Amazingly simple yet often overlooked are barrels of flowers. These barrels in front of the East End Market are set over old, fading pavement markings that say “no parking”. They keep cars out, create a nice protected courtyard in front of the store entrance. They are so effective that they barely get any notice.

Barrels of flowers at the East End Market (2011)

Town uses barrels here in an attempt to define a pedestrian area at this crosswalk next to Town Hall:

Barrels of flowers at Town Hall in Provincetown (2015)


Allowing people on bikes or people walking to cut through properties makes great sense. It shortens the trip distance to get from here to there.

The owners of the parking lot on Bradford St. added this fence with an opening to provide access through the parking lot.

Allowing cut-through biking and walking on Cowell St. in Provincetown (2018)

Greening instead of paving

This grassy parcel at the corner of Shank Painter Rd. and Court St. is a nice example of a private parking lot that does double duty as a green space. In the busy summer months, it’s full of cars. The rest of the year, it’s a green space. You’ll see horses here from time to time and lots of people using it as a cut-through.

Greening instead of paving at Shank Painter Rd. and Court St. in Provincetown (2011)

Islands of flowers

We have a lot of these odd islands in the middle of intersections. Since most have a telephone pole or tree in the middle, they’re not likely to be changed any time soon. The town’s volunteer Public Landscape Committee (formerly the Beautification Committee) does amazing work on making some of these islands beautiful.

Island plantings at West Vine St. in Provincetown (2011)

Island plantings at Standish St. in Provincetown (2015)


Paint isn’t always pretty, but it’s cheap and it gets the job done. Here’s an example of a yellow crosswalk that the town painted to emphasize the crossing from the parking to the sidewalk on Ryder St. This is a congested and chaotic area in the summer, with transit and tour bus parking, the exit from the municipal lot, and the entrance and exit for Fishermen’s Wharf.

Yellow crosswalk in Provincetown (2016)

Sometimes good solutions are right there in the open, waiting to be discovered and replicated. Too often I realize I see the things that don’t work rather than the things that do. Here’s hoping some of these examples can be copied and pasted onto other problem areas around town.