Saturday, November 07, 2015

Once again: "The design of a street, more so than any posted speed limit sign, invites drivers to go fast or slow."

You'll have to click through to see the photo, which contrasts an overbuilt street with a right-sized street. The photo was assembled by Wes Craiglow, a city planner in Arkansas.

Some 20-MPH Streets Are Safer Than Others ... Forget speed limits—the key to slower roads is design, by Eric Jaffe (City Lab)

 ... Craiglow's point is that the design of a street, more so than any posted speed limit sign, invites drivers to go fast or slow. It’s a critical message at a time when cities around the U.S. and the world are turning to Vision Zero and 20’s Plenty campaigns that stress the safety advantages of slower traffic. As the Strong Towns blog noted in picking up the meme: “We can't regulate our way to safety.”

By regulation, we're referring to the oft-heard suggestion to enforce speed limits by writing more tickets.

“Regulation may not be the best means to the end. In fact design—the actual framework—is probably a more responsible, cost-effective, and meaningful method to get the same end.”

Try telling that to New Albany's Bored with Works or Safety, and strain to imagine one of our city planner's describing these matters to a national web site. You can't do it, can you?

He says that for too long now urban planners have provided only one choice, and that it’s time for them to show city residents the full “buffet” of living options. Some people will choose to live in the top photo, sure. But many will choose to live in the bottom photo. Still others will prefer a dense, mixed-use environment downtown. “We need to create that,” he says. “And everything in between.”

Arkansas, folks. Not Indiana. ARKANSAS.

Craiglow suggests it’s time for traffic engineers, who tend to put car movement above all else, to share the stage with smart designers. “We have to drive home design, and what design means to our community,” he says. “We have to tell the engineers: You have to ride shotgun for a little while. You’re still in the front seat. You’re going to navigate. We’re going to do it together. But you can’t drive all the time.”

Revolution? What a thrill.

Why not here?

Ask Jeff Gahan.

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