Transportation Networks


Transportation Networks

CNU has long recognized transportation as a key determinant of quality of urban form and community life. Transportation networks not only accommodate a region's access and mobility needs, but also help determine the location, type, and form of land development. CNU seeks to create sustainable transportation networks that are planned in coordination with community planning, and work to reduce household costs, traffic injuries and greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable Street Network Principles

For the first time, the CNU has compiled a set of principles and key characteristics of the sustainable street network into a document that is practical, inspirational, and beautifully illustrated. The Principles have been crafted through nearly a decade of CNU member discussion, research, and involvement. The Principles are a must-have for every traffic engineer, urban designer, urban planner, and engaged urban citizen. They outline not only why sustainable street networks are essential to a vibrant and healthy society, but also what makes a street network sustainable in the first place.

For too long, guidance for street design has emphasized free-flowing mobility for the automobile over the needs of the pedestrian, the cyclist, and other modes of transportation. This conventional thinking has come at the expense of the quality of our environment and the commercial success of our cities. The CNU Sustainable Street Network Principles place the historic function of streets for all citizens front and center and makes a case for good, traditional urbanism that is impossible to ignore. 

Read the Sustainable Street Network Principles. Note: Download a copy here to print. When printing, you will want to collate into standard magazine/book layout, rather than single-page .pdf formatting.

CNU Networks Initiative Background

This CNU initiative began with an aim to define and detail the characteristics of urban transportation networks across all scales in order to advance the creation of sustainable neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions.

In the summer of 2010, the CNU Project for Transportation Reform Sustainable Street Network Working Group met in Chicago to begin to craft the text that would become the Sustainable Network Principles. Following that meeting, the group continued to discuss the document and refine the Principles. Through a generous grant from the Ford Foundation, the document was illustrated and designed into its final form. The work that has been done since the summer of 2010 built on the foundation that had been created through previous CNU Transportation Summits. A summary of the background information that resulted from these summits and other events follows.

Transportation Summits

This is where CNU's work on Networks began. Click here to learn more about CNU Transportation Summits.

Additional Materials

Principles of Transportation Networks - Original Working Documents

Summary of Network Discussions at CNU XVI

Transportation Network Discussions at Previous Transportation Summits


Contact information

Alex McKeag, CNU Program Manager, 312.551.7300, amckeag {at} cnu org

Connected Networks Proposal

This CNU proposal calls for connected transportation networks to be eligible for federal and state funding. The proposal makes areas meeting straightforward connectivity criteria eligible for a “network” designation. Once a state recognizes a qualifying local area with a network designation, all streets in the network (including the portion of streets devoted to pedestrian use, i.e. sidewalks) would be eligible for investment for projects that maintain or improve the function of the network - even accelerated maintenance and pothole repair. Typical federal funding practices fund individual roads in isolation, often resulting in more traffic on larger roads, a prospect many communities now view warily.

As first presented during the discussion over the economic stimulus package, the proposal gained attention from key legislators, including those involved with the bipartisan legislation known as The Clean Low-Emissions Affordable New Transportation Efficiency Act, aka "CLEAN TEA." (see below) At the urging of CNU and its members, CLEAN TEA's co-sponsors added language to the bill promoting investments in new infrastructure that enhances network connectivity and performance. CLEAN TEA is intended to require regions and states to plan to reduce the carbon impact of transportation investments by directing 10% of cap-and-trade proceeds to go towards transportation investments such as public transportation, bicycle infrastructure and now, increased street network connectivity. CLEAN TEA would significantly expand federal approaches for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Coverage and Correspondence