Monday, May 22, 2017

"A street is the framework upon which we build places. It’s not about speed. It’s not about 'getting there.'"

Over and over again, these notices pop up.

For the most part, driving on the surface streets of Vancouver is easy but walking or biking around the city is often another matter entirely. In an effort to make Vancouver’s roads safe, convenient and more comfortable to a broader array of users, the city is in the works of adopting a Complete Streets policy to guide future road development and upgrades.

Until ours is sensible, it won't be, and so I'll continue making the point.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A CITY STREET?, by Sarah Kobos (Smart Growth Tulsa)


What is the purpose of a city street?

It’s not something that most of us think about very much.

If you said, “to move cars from point A to point B in the least amount of time,” you are not alone. Heck, you may even be a city traffic engineer. Especially in car-oriented places like Tulsa, city streets tend to be seen as a conveyance, allowing us—as long as we have a car—to get where we need to go.

Having attended the national Strong Towns Summit in Tulsa a few weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about a different definition of city streets.

Why? Because our future depends on it.

To better understand what I’m talking about, we need to clarify the difference between a street and a road.

Think about a road as a way to get from place to place. It should be fast and convenient, maximizing efficiency and helping you reach your destination in a timely manner. Notice how the definition of a road includes the idea of a “place.” A road connects places.

A street is not a road. A street is the framework upon which we build places. It’s not about speed. It’s not about “getting there.” If you’re in a place, you’re already there. Thus, it’s imperative that streets serve the people in a place, not the cars speeding through it. And because places generate jobs and taxes and opportunity, we should start thinking of streets not as conveyances, but as a platform for building wealth.

SNIP to the conclusion.

By focusing our energies on older places that are inherently walkable and already served by existing infrastructure, we can increase quality of life along with tax revenues while building great places people love.

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