Some good street ideas!

by Doug Norman . 0 Comments

It turns out that one-way streets in urban neighborhoods may move a high volume of cars but ruins just about everything else, including auto safety. Reconverting one-ways to two-ways makes neighborhoods better and safer places to live.  Under the supervision of John Gilderbloom, planning students at the University of Louisville conducted a study of one reconverted area in the city’s downtown. The results were clear and quickly apparent: Wrecks, robberies, and other crime fell dramatically while property value, walkability, bike-ability, business investment, tax revenue, and safety all soared. Hey Austin! Yeah you with all those one-ways downtown, you can read more about it at Planetizen.

Sticky streets?!  Yes, but not from ooey-gooey tar. Advanced Urbanist Consultant Brent Toderian discusses the evolution of Vancouver’s transportation planning from viewing streets as primarily traffic movers to seeing them as “people-places.” It’s also on Planetizen.

Things like patios, food carts or trucks combined with attractive seating, street performers, or just really lively store windows that draw a crowd, all contribute to making a street more “sticky.” … A street is sticky if as you move along it, you’re constantly enticed to slow down, stop and linger to enjoy the public life around you.

He shares his insights including three basic principles: people love watching other people, blank or product-lined walls repel people, not every street can be sticky so choose them carefully. (He also references a book by his mentor Jan Gehl, co-written with Birgitte Svarre, called How to Study Public Life; just added that to my reading list!) There a few areas of downtown Austin where attempts have been made to do just this. I can think of some patio cafés, for example, along 2nd St. But I’ve got to admit I’ve always thought what a miserable place to eat lunch, a few feet from traffic. I suppose I should give it a try rather than dismissing it out of hand. It is a two-way street and it does bear the name of one of our many local saints, Willie Nelson St.


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