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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Not just for cars anymore

Illustration of the complete street concept
From the Hartford Courant, 03.16.08:

'Complete Streets' Movement Focused On Making Way For Cyclists, Pedestrians, Transit

If America is going to conserve energy and become more physically fit, a good place to start would be with the streets.

Since at least World War II, streets have been regarded primarily as conduits for cars and trucks. But if streets and their sidewalks and intersections were handled in a more far-sighted way, they would serve a bigger slice of the population--pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit riders, as well as motorists.

Throughout the United States, a "Complete Streets" movement is emerging, causing more and more governments to broaden their outlook. According to a report last fall in the AARP Bulletin, 52 municipalities, six counties, 10 regional governments and 14 states have adopted Complete Streets policies. These policies require transportation departments to design--or redesign--streets and roads so that they accommodate people using all modes of travel.

The West Coast is a hotbed for such efforts. The first state to pass a law mandating that facilities for bicycles and pedestrians be included in all road projects was Oregon, in 1971...

In most of the country's urban neighborhoods, there simply isn't room to add many bike lanes, so cities turn to other methods, such as employing law enforcement and traffic-calming design techniques to bring speeds down. (A) consultant on Complete Streets efforts...advises governments to try to slow cars and trucks down to 20 to 25 mph--a speed at which motor vehicles and cyclists can comfortably share the road. This also makes pedestrians safer and more relaxed.

In Portland, the result of applying these and other techniques is that 4.2 percent of the city's residents commute by bike. That's the highest proportion in any American city, and four times the national average. (Read more.)
Interesting op-ed the senior editor of New Urban News, making the case for a more comprehensive approach to streets. Compare the green, friendly, attractive street pictured above, with the insanity of this street development. Case closed.

Image: AARP Bulletin
Visit: "More bike lanes? No thanks." Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Josh Switzky: Cycling Planner, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Unknown said...

Despite what the article claims, there actually IS room in most urban environments for bike lanes. It just takes some courage by cities to take the necessary space away from cars and give it to bikes. Many cities are doing this, removing extra travel lanes to allow for the creation of bike lanes. It's a matter or priorities, not a matter of physical space.

Anonymous said...

This is what I been looking for as a wonderful place for living without fuel generated vehicles around :)

Anonymous said...

Room for metered parking in St Louis area is given higher priority than space for cycling.

As Charlie stated, it is a matter of priorities.

Winston said...

I think that one would be safer riding in your picture of "insanity" than in the rendered "complete street." The bike lanes being so close to the car doors is a sure recipe for accidents while in the frontage roads along the freeway in San Antonio have few intersections and no parked cars. It really doesn't seem that hard to navigate and doesn't present any big dangers.