Emergency Response and Street Design Initiative Report Released

Johanna Bye's picture

Since 2008, the Congress for the New Urbanism has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Smart Growth program and fire marshals from across the nation to establish new street design standards that allow for narrower streets and increased connectivity. To compliment this effort, CNU yesterday released an Emergency Response and Street Design Initiative report, written by Carl D. Wren.

Wren's report links street width, as well as connectivity, to pedestrian and driver safety. Narrow streets encourage walking and slower traffic speeds, making the overall environment safer for walkers, bikers, and drivers alike. However, the layout and connectivity of streets improves safety and quality of life as well. A well-connected street grid shortens emergency response times by providing alternative routes and accessibility. It is this combination of narrower streets and connectivity that CNU's Emergency Response and Street Design Initiative addresses.

Unfortunately, the current International Fire Code (IFC) does not take street network into account. CNU, along with its coalition of allies, is working hard to propose amendments to the fire code that make it more flexible with regard to street design.

If we are to successfully amend the fire code, communication across professions is essential. Wren’s report confirms the need for more dialogue among planners, urban designers, city officials, and emergency response crews in creating plans for cities. By establishing and improving communication between these groups, we can create places that are better connected, more livable, and most importantly, safer for the community as a whole.

Wren will present his report at the 10th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference this Thursday, February 3. If attending, make sure to check out the Building Better Streets and Connected Cities session from 9-10:30 am. CNU members Norman Garrick and Danny Pleasant, and the EPA’s Danielle Arigoni, will also be speaking.

Wren’s complete report, as well as an executive summary, can be found on CNU’s Emergency Response and Street Design Initiative web page.


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