Designing Streets For People…A Crazy Idea

Recently, Strongtowns.org had two really, really good articles about designing streets for more than just car travel. And at Bike Miami Valley, this is something we think about…A LOT, so we’re sharing this info with you.

The first article “Engineers Should Not Design Streets” has some great points about the difference between roads and streets and details how designing a street for people has shown to “provide a platform for building wealth”.

“We do a disservice to our communities when we treat streets as if they were roads, when we ignore the complex environments streets are meant to create and treat them as if they were simple throughput models. Streets need to be designed block by block.”

Basically, people getting outside of their cars and onto the streets is an indicator of economic success in a complex environment like cities. The question was asked, so knowing this, should we be leaving street design to engineers concerned with traffic volume and speed? Probably not.

Read more here

Photo Courtesy of PeopleForBikes
Photo Courtesy of PeopleForBikes

The second article from Strongtowns.org, titled “Returning One-Way Streets To Their Two-Way Roots” highlights examples in South Bend, IN  & Louisville, KY where one-way streets were contributing to the deteriorating conditions of the downtown. Then the streets were converted back to two-way travel and immediately properly values increases, crimed decreased, and new businesses opened.

“As the thinking goes, two-way streets provide better exposure to ground-level businesses and calm traffic, contributing to a more pedestrian-friendly environment that is conducive to retail development.”

The impact of street design played a major role in the perception of the build environment. Again, this article highlights how people will use the environment of the street in a positive way.

Read more here

So, the take away message is simple, streets are for people and they have been for thousands of years. Let’s transition our region back to people-centric places.

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