Wanted: Streets Designed for All

Picking up on a thread from earlier this week on how street design can be used to prevent high-speed crashes in dense urban environments, today on the Network we hear from Streetsblog regular Andy B from Jersey, via WalkBikeJersey Blog.

On a recent drive along the Jersey shore, Andy found Route 35 packed with people, and the street ill-suited to accommodate them.

ocstop.jpgA 21-year-old pedestrian was killed
at this Ocean City, NJ intersection in July. Locals say design changes
are needed to prevent future casualties. Photo: pressofAtanticCity.com

Talk of pedestrian and bicycle traffic! It was everywhere and
coming from every conceivable direction. This was particularly true in
the Lavallette and Ortley Beach areas. Despite the volumes of bike and
pedestrian traffic facilities for them were extremely minimal and often
in poor condition. Bike lanes are nonexistent and even sidewalks were
intermittent. Bicyclists came from every direction with only one of
over a hundred having any lights even though it was completely dark by
this time. Pedestrians were also hard to see, including ones making
every effort to use the marked crosswalks. Local authorities did try to
help pedestrians by placing construction barrels in the roadway to
accent crosswalks but at night this seemed (to me at least) to cause
more confusion.

With repairs coming soon at some point it is time for NJDOT to step up and come up with a Context Sensitive Solution for this highway that suits the needs of all roadway users and increases safety for all.

Traffic
enforcement and equitable street design shouldn’t be an either/or
proposition. Can citizens prod law enforcers and urban planners to work
together to improve conditions for all road users? If so, where do we
begin?

Also today, Transit Miami finds that Quito, Ecuador, is getting it right when it comes to people-friendly streetscaping, while UrbanCincy ponders the merits of signal timing in keeping speeds down. And WashCycle
reports that Roanoke, Virginia, cyclists bulked up their bikes to
illustrate how much street space is required for the average driver.

  • Why this obsession with streets for “all”? It is automobiles that dominate any street if allowed at all, at any speed. Risk of death or injury from collisions is certainly perceived as the biggest problem, but how about tailpipe and noise emissions? These don’t stop at the curb or the building facade. Tailpipe exhaust kills more people than “accidents” (This is funny, we could start calling this “accidents” to make clear how ridiculous the term is for radically-opposed mass and acceleration differentiation, a kind of long way of saying – which I just make up – “crashes” or “crashes”).

    Even on an extremely “calmed” street, if the kids are drawing, dancing playing they have to move aside if an automobile comes by (your living room might also be for “all”, but that doesn’t mean you let automobiles drive through.)

    I support emergency vehicles using all streets, public transport using arteries plus carshare (transitional automobiles) and delivery vehicles given limited access until new systems for people and goods are fully developed, but this near obsession with “all” (or “complete streets”, “shared space” etc.) is a kind of false democratic strategy which intentionally or not enables private car-ism to continue.

    (“Car” is whatever is “attached” to an automobile: Marketing, peer pressure, non-internalisation of costs, addiction, dependency, use of “sustainable fuels” for non-sustainable purposes… wars for resources. An “automobile” is a rubber-tired non-guided road vehicle which seats about 12 persons or under, and most often between 4 and 6.)

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Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. For all their benefits, protected bike lanes can be complicated. Between maintaining barriers, keeping them clear of snow and preserving intersection visibility, it’s understandable that cities opt not to include them on […]