Saving Lives Through Good Street Design

Heather Smith's picture

Last week's post from Ben Schulman, "Roads Aren't the Problem. It's Hidden Cost and Design," gets at the heart of the reforms CNU members are enacting.  Humans have used roads for centuries as places of movement, commerce and for social activity.  It is only when Modernism and the CIAM founders proclaimed that the city was getting in the way of the car that the road building, infratructure and engineering all coalesced to engineer street just for movement. Usually just movement of cars.  That is great for freight and for long distance driving but it is terrible for those of us in the business of place making.  CNU members are advocates of enduring special places, not just pretty landscapes to drive by.

To begin taking apart and rebuilding this  infrastructure we need a multi-pronged approach.  We need to work with all 50 State DOTs to encourage widespread adoption of the CNU/ITE Walkable Urban Thoroughfares Manual.  All public works officials and DOT officials need to know this is a new resource that enables walkable streets and great urbanism.

Secondly, we need to support sustainable transportation networks.  The network is the most powerful tool urban designers have.  CNU found that even unlikely allies such as emergency responders support dense street networks that allow redundant access to emergencies.

Most importantly, this approach can save lives.  Over 36,000 people a year die in traffic accidents.  Planning for roads that create places can help lower these needless tragedies.


The human cost, as

The human cost, as illustrated in the 36,000 plus figure, is something I neglected to spefically address in my post. All the more reason we need to allow for common-sense and context-sensitive strategies to become the dominant paradigm.


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