Cities are dropping older street design & network models based solely on moving automobiles in favor of emerging new metrics for streets that serve mulitple uses and users.
Benefits & Problems Addressed
Balanced transportation systems: A sole focus on car travel produced impacts beyond the street as traffic volume, congestion and parking needs
Moving more travelers: Moving cars, often with a sole occupant, is not the same as moving people.
Safety: redesigning streets to favor movement over delayed intersections can reduce speeds and enhance safety.
Lower infrastructure costs: Reprogramming space for multiple modes & functions reduces wear & tear from heavy vehicles and a higher return on investment per square foot of infrastructure.
Beyond Level of Service: LOS, the traditional performance measure guiding street design, only measured delay for motorists, and often produced negative impacts such as wider, unsafe roads for all travelers.
Tips & Techniques
Define your street's users & uses: Pedestrians, auto drivers, emergency responders, freight/delivery, transit, mobile commerce. Uses include travel, commerce, stormwater management & landscaping, signage, gathering places. utilities,
Set a hierarchy of goals: A wider set of street design goals include safety, accommodate all users, accomodate mulitple uses in the rights of way, create great public spaces, resilient streets.
Strategies for challenges & opportunities: Use data/mapping to detet the most common safety and hotspot problems. Common measurable strategies for lessening congestion and enhancing other community goals includes (1) increasing bus & transit service, (2) safer intersection design, (3) managing streetside parkign & loading, (4) increasing rideshare, (5) absorbent landscaping.
Metrics that matter: (1) Pedestrians: Minimal delay at crossings, foot traffic volume; left hand turn bans (2) Bicyclists: injuries/fatalities counts and locations, bicycle counts; (3) Transit: on-time performance, Ridership per revenue hour, operating cost per hour; (4) Freight & delivery: freight counts by hour, location & type of vehicle, time spent loading/unloading; (5) Multi-objective: sidewalk activity, storm water volume captured & treated, emergency response times and access.
Resources & Examples
Measuring the Street: New Metrics for 21st Century Streets in NYC - New York, NY US
Urban Street Design Guide - National Association of City Transportation Officials