Taylor Rogers | Staff Writer
“Can I share some space?”
It’s the question that Hugh Butler, president of the Chautauqua Property Owners Association, wants Chautauquans to ask again this season.
CPOA is beginning the second summer of its Shared Space Initiative. Butler said this summer is less about spreading the Shared Space logo and more about knowing and practicing the idea behind it.
The idea, he said, is about being aware, thoughtful and polite while moving around the grounds.
“Think about other people,” he said.
Butler said having a group of people walking four-wide along a road can be difficult for those passing, but when a cyclist rings his or her bell or a car honks, it also is impolite.
“All of that is so un-Chautauquan,” Butler said. “It disturbs the ambiance of being here.”
And that’s where CPOA comes in. Better ambiance means a better experience for property owners, and transportation safety is a very common complaint, he said.
Butler and other members of the Transportation Safety Committee, a standing committee in CPOA, began working with the idea of the Shared Space Initiative in the winter of 2009. Butler has chaired the committee since 2008.
The committee’s objective was to come up with an idea that would not change or alter the transportation experience but simply make it more pleasant.
After doing some research, Butler said he discovered what the Dutch call a “woonerf.” A woonerf — or “shared space,” as it’s referred to in many areas — carries the idea that on certain streets, pedestrians and cyclists should have the right of way over motorists. Decorations take the place of street signs as a reminder to be considerate.
Because Chautauqua is a densely populated community, Butler said he took to this idea as a way to improve everyone’s experience as they attend lectures, classes and events. The concept fit what the committee was trying to do.
“The idea is to visually communicate to every mobility mode, pedestrian, bicyclist, automobile, that you’re in a shared space,” Butler said. “Pay attention; slow down; make eye contact.”
They were ready to get the word out by the summer of 2010. Butler said they didn’t want to do it with signs, keeping with the woonerf concept. Instead, they relied on culture.
David Tabish, also a member of the Transportation Safety Committee, sketched a logo of a giant “C,” with examples of Chautauquans being courteous to others making up the letter. Butler said they printed T-shirts, posters and garden flags last summer in the hopes that residents would start to recognize the symbol.
CPOA gave shirts to Club and Children’s School counselors, and the Chautauqua Bookstore is offering posters with the logo. Butler said he’s excited that the initiative has gathered support, and he feels that, in some form, it has started to take root.
This season, the association will get the message out with a notice every Saturday in The Chautauquan Daily, and Butler said his main focus is making sure Chautauquans “think it, act it, encourage it.”