First the Basics: Best Transportation
Design the street network with multiple connections and relatively direct
Space through-streets no more than a half mile apart, or the equivalent
route density in a curvilinear network.
Practice 3: Use traffic calming
Practice 4: Keep speeds on local
streets down to 20 mph.
Practice 5: Keep speeds on arterials
and collectors down to 35 mph (at least inside communities).
Practice 6: Keep all streets
as narrow as possible, and never more than four travel lanes wide.
Practice 7: Align streets to
give buildings energy-efficient orientations.
Practice 8: Avoid using traffic
signals wherever possible and always space them for good traffic progression.
Practice 9: Provide networks
for pedestrians and bicyclists as good as the network for motorists.
Practice 10: Provide pedestrians
and bicyclists with shortcuts and alternatives to traviel along high-volume
Practice 11: Incorporate transit-oriented
Practice 12: Establish Transportation
Demand Management (TDM) programs at employment centers.
"Traffic Calming" Slows Traffic Down
To provide a safer and more accessible environment
for walking and biking, many American cities are recognizing the virtues
of "traffic calming" measures that slow traffic down, restrict the areas
in which cars are allowed, and otherwise manages the flow of traffic and
its negative impact on communities. A variety of methods exist including,
narrowing of streets, traffic circles, raised center pavements and barriers
and road bumps.2 These methods have been used successfully
in Europe. In his design for Laguna West in Sacramento, CA,
Peter Calthorpe used tree wells to both slow traffic and eventually (when
the trees reach full cover) cool the streets.3
Pedestrian Malls Help Create Vibrant Downtowns
Pedestrian or walking malls prohibit or greatly
restrict car use on designated streets. More prevalent in Europe
than in the U.S., these malls help decrease dependency on the auto by opening
up safe space for walking, shopping, and socializing. Several pedestrian
malls exist in the U.S.: Charlottesville, Virginia; Burlington, Vermont;
and Boulder, Colorado are good examples. After closing downtown streets
to through traffic, these cities have seen a more vibrant downtown economy
as well as a mixture of housing and commercial areas.4
Bike Friendly Design
Davis, (CA), Boulder (CO), and Eugene, (OR),
have broad bike lanes and plenty of bike parking -- infrastructure that
bicyclists need to make shopping and other activities feasible without
Some cities -- Portland (OR); Austin (TX);
Madison (WI); Orlando, (FL) --have tried experimenting with providing
public bicycles at transit stops and other public places.6
Street Design Promotes Street Life
Short blocks on a grid layout can enhance downtown
street life, as
Portland illustrates well. The city was platted
in 200-foot blocks and the result is a very open and walkable city. 7
Designs For Rural Roads
Planners and engineers routinely apply suburban
road standards in designing new rural roads and improving existing ones.
New roads are unnecessarily wide and often devoid of the magnificent trees
and rough stone walls that characterize many country byways. Alternatives
rural road design can retain small town features and provide bike and pedestrian
safety as well. For example, in the 1980's, a large-lot, residential
development was approved for the northern edge of the historic hamlet of
Shekomeko, in Duchess County, NY. While the development was in keeping
with the rural character of the area, the access to the residential enclave
was suburban, including a wide entrance, curbs and gutters, and paved with
asphalt. The Duchess Land Conservancy worked with the County Highway Department
to design a plan that preserved the hamlet's core and increased pedestrian
safety. Removing the entrance's curbs and gutters, retaining rocks and
vegetation, and reducing the development's entrance from 125 feet to 25
feet maintained the rustic feel of the hamlet.8
1 Reid Ewing, Best Development
Practices (Chicago, IL: Planners Press, 1996) p.53.
2 Timothy Beatley and
Kristy Manning, The Ecology of Place: Planning for Environment, Economy,
and Community (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997), pp 65.
3 Ibid., p. 116.
4 Ibid., pp .65-66.
5 Ibid., pp. 68-69.
6 Ibid., pp. 68-69.
7 Ibid., p. 67.
8 Dutchess Land Conservancy,
Inc., "Design Guide for Rural Roads" (NY: Duchess Land Conservancy, 1998),