Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Proper Interface Between Canal and Community

A bicycle rack, some trees for separation, a canal, some connecting paths

Too many times, I see neighborhoods and business turn their backs on the potential of the canals that cross our city. With fences, walls, gates, and neglect, people have turned away all too often. But consider one alternative. At Chelsea's Kitchen, a neighborhood restaurant and gathering spot at 40th Street north of Camelback Road, the path along the Arizona Canal is incorporated into the experience, embraced, appreciated, and also functional. Trees, flowing water, a gravel path, open air, bright sunshine, an occupied bicycle rack, parents pulling kids in a fancy red wagon: so much better than a cement wall, a bare parking lot, and the sixteen other kinds of generic visual hell that are not this. Put this into context: these bikes are not after-thoughts, not jammed in between the bollards and the garbage cans, they are included. Look at the space in this picture, they actually have breathing room in the form of a great open canal path!

Room to ride, room to park, room to breathe, room to spin around in a silly circle dance

The native plants landscaping is also a beautiful touch. This is a proper interface between canal and community, enabling, honoring, recognizing, supporting both. With bicycles, right there at the center. Get up. Go ride.



  1. Really nice! I love it when you find neat places to stop with your bike along your ride. Hat's off to the owners of Chelsea's Kitchen for recognizing that people on bikes are looking for places to ride and places to stop in and relax with a coffee or bite to eat. In the 50's there were Drive Ins, in the 2011's (?) there are Ride Ins !

  2. Yea, that looks like a fun place to stop for a while.

  3. Actually, it almost looks that if you really hammered it, you might be able to jump across that canal, skipping like a rock. Well, maybe. Have you tried it and found it wasn't possible? Maybe that explains the derelict bike you posted about not so long ago...

  4. Check out which aims to bring more Chelsea's Kitchen like orientations to theValleys's 180 miles of canals.

  5. PaddyAnne, Ride ins, yes! At this time, there's not much else like this. Scottsdale Waterfront also integrates with the canal, and that's the only other one I know of along this entire canal.

    Big Oak, the food is really good, too.

    Steve, no, I haven't tried. And I believe that sort of thing is discouraged. I think it would all end in tears.

    Yuri, thanks for commenting. When the Canalscape exhibit relocated to the Community College, I rode over and wrote about it, have a look at OSG Canalscape review here. I was so pleasantly surprised when Sam Feldman himself commented on that post. I offered the tiny suggestion to direct link a PDF file of the publication, and he thought my suggestion reasonable and made it so. The "What Could Be" map by Francisco Cardona (p.10) is a favorite dreamscape of mine: it shows the canal system as a entwined network of accessibility that could be dotted with "urban hubs (of all sizes) where canals meet streets". Love it.


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