Thursday, June 7, 2012

The vision thing

The before picture.

The heart of the livable streets movement is seeing the long-overlooked possibilities of our streets. Rather than serving a purely functional purpose of moving cars around, streets are valuable public space and can enhance their surroundings. A great street is the sort of place we all want to live near.

The street pictured above, from California, wouldn't be too bad by Norwalk standards. It has sidewalks and crosswalks. But is it doing the best possible job of serving its neighborhood?

On Dan Burden's (a consultant on Norwalk's Transportation Master Plan) Walkable and Livable Communities Facebook page, he shares his vision for how the street could be transformed.

Step 1: Add crosswalks

Step 2: Right-size the road, narrowing crossing distances, calming traffic and providing a buffer between pedestrians and traffic.

Step 3: Introduce a roundabout, further calming traffic and dramatically improving the safety of the intersection. Note that the utilities are also underground, attractive lighting is added and sharrows have been introduced to make the street more bike-friendly.

Step 4: Landscape!

Step 5: My favorite bit...well-designed streets are self-explanatory, so you don't need all that ugly signage.

VoilĂ , that is one great-looking street...the sort of place that feels like the heart of a neighborhood.

So remember, Norwalk, our streets don't have to look the way they do. A little vision goes a long way.


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