Roads are pretty important to a lot of people.
This isn’t really insightful, but in light of this reality, you would expect a bit more care to be given to the design, not just engineering, of streets. Instead, we get what we’ve always gotten – generally safe and generally efficient thoroughfares for vehicular traffic.
Some folks think there’s more to streets than that, however. And as people often do when they share a desire for change, they’ve started a movement: Shared Space, which Wikipedia says is “the blurring or removal of the distinction between space designated for automobiles and space designated for pedestrians and bicycles.”
The curb is a big enemy in the Shared Space philosophy, because the curb is a separator, dictating what belongs to the pedestrian and what belongs to the vehicle. There are other enemies as well: signs, lines on the road, even traffic lights. Pioneered by Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, who died earlier this year at age 62, Shared Space gets the street naked, removes all physical and psychological barriers, and forces cars and pedestrians to share. The concept makes the street safe by making it dangerous to proceed without paying attention.
For decades, our urban street system has focused almost exclusively on the efficient movement of cars. "When you walk down one of these European streets and see people walking, entire families riding bicycles together, people sitting outside having an evening drink, you think, 'This is the way a city should be,' " says Steven E. Miller, the executive director of the Healthy Weight Initiative in the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. He believes walkable streets will go a long way toward mending chronic health problems. "And you feel astounded that America hasn't caught on to that effect."
The whole thing is worth a read. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of this around here.
Totally unrelated to Shared Space (or maybe not?), here’s something that popped out of the Way Back machine today:
Yeah. How about that? This is the third revision, published by HCCA in 1994. The original edition came out in 1972. I haven’t really had a chance to go through it yet, but I thought it was an interesting piece of HoCo community history. I'll let you know if I find anything fun in it.
Because the fairness doctrine compels me, here’s the playbook used by developers.