Co-opting Complete Streets

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Chuck Marohn endorses streets over roads ... Co-opting Complete Streets

: "Now notice that I called this route a 'road' and not a 'street'. Understanding the difference between a road and a street is critical to understanding the problem we have with engineers misusing the Complete Streets approach. From our Placemaking Principles for a Strong Town:
To build an affordable transportation system, a Strong Town utilizes roads to move traffic safely at high speeds outside of neighborhoods and urban areas. Within neighborhoods and urban areas, a Strong Town uses complex streets to equally accommodate the full range of transportation options available to residents.

Roads move cars at high speeds. Streets move cars at very slow speeds. We should build roads outside of neighborhoods, connecting communities across distances. We should build streets within neighborhoods where there are homes, businesses and other destinations. The auto-road is a post-WW II replacement of the rail-road. The street should be what it has always been; the street."

Streets are in cities, from the Latin Strata (and have always been paved with something), roads are in the country, from the same root as "ride", and harken back to the rural routes taken by men on horses. Streets are for land access (and secondarily movement), roads are for movement (and secondarily land access). We get problems when we treat roads like streets and streets like roads. The words are probably muddied in common usage, but transportationists need to keep these things clear.

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But what if I want potential buyers of the houses I build to be able to pretend they live in the country? Wouldn't I want to avoid the word 'street' like the plague? (And even more so the Franco-communist 'avenue')

That's right, it's just a quiet country road, so there's no need for sidewalks, you can just walk right in the street... until the 5,000 home subdivision is built out, and there are thousands of cars a day driving on that quiet country road.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

Access to Destinations

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Financing Transportation Networks

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on May 16, 2011 9:58 AM.

Brookings Loonies « Systemic Failure was the previous entry in this blog.

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