Region Forward Blog

Civilized Streets

May 25, 2011


This Streetsfilms project (video below) demonstrates how recent Complete Streets projects in New York City have been able to increase the safety modal diversity and overall use of transportation corridors. This film uses several examples of Complete Streets (streets designed for various modes of getting around including walking biking transit and driving).

Among these Prospect Park West in Brooklyn is a particularly strong example because automotive traffic speeds there decreased nearly ten miles per hour without increasing trip time while infrastructure that encourages more pedestrian and bicycle trips was added. This balance demonstrates some important lessons: 1) top speed is not a good metric for judging how well transportation systems work 2) local traffic needs access more than speed 3) modal diversity can support vibrant retail.

Civilizing a corridor can transform a place from a means to an end to a destination. Complete Streets enable many different types of transportation system users to interact efficiently. Local traffic can easily and spontaneously stop and buy clothing a drink or a gift while on their way to a nearby destination. Multi-modal transportation increases and diversifies potential customers creating a fruitful environment for small businesses along the corridor by attracting more local customers with convenience.

This film depicts retailers that have thrived from complete streets where do you think retailers in metro Washington would most benefit from Complete Streets?

Ryan Hand is an Associate Regional Planner and is the author of previous entries on green building in metropolitan Washington


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