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Posts from the Traffic Calming Category

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Revisiting Donald Appleyard’s Livable Streets

You may have wondered, while watching a Streetfilm or reading a post on Streetsblog, where we got the term "livable streets."FTGMlogo4web

The answer can be found in the work of Donald Appleyard, a scholar who studied the neighborhood environment and the ways planning and design can make life better for city residents. In 1981, Appleyard published "Livable Streets" based on his research into how people experience streets with different traffic volumes.  The Second Edition of Livable Streets will be published by Routledge Press in 2011.

Today we're revisiting Appleyard's work in the second installment of our series, "Fixing the Great Mistake." This video explores three studies in "Livable Streets" that measured, for the first time, the effect of traffic on our social interactions and how we perceive our own homes and neighborhoods.

"Fixing the Great Mistake" is a new Streetfilms series that examines what went wrong in the early part of the 20th Century, when our cities began catering to the automobile, and how those decisions continue to affect our lives today.

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Traffic Calming Postcards from London

Judging by recent comments from some local pols, you'd think the addition of pedestrian spaces and bikeways in New York City has somehow thrown our streets out of whack. But what would our streets look like if we really did balance everyone's needs and made them safe and functional for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists?

In this Streetfilm, you'll see some of the new street designs in London shopping districts and residential neighborhoods. In many cases, these traffic calming treatments -- including raised crosswalks, traffic diverters, and chicanes -- go further than what we've seen in New York City so far. The attention to detail has created a truly balanced street environment, enhancing safety for pedestrians and cyclists while maintaining access for the trucks and cars that need to use the road.

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No Need for Speed: 20’s Plenty for Us

Earlier this month, the New York City Department of Transportation announced plans to experiment with 20 mph zones -- replacing the city's default 30 mph speed limit in one pilot neighborhood. Whoever gets the first 20 mph treatment will see benefits that residents of British cities and towns have become increasingly familiar with in recent years.

In the UK, some 3 million people live in areas with 20 mph speed limits. The experience there shows that not only do slower speeds save lives, but lowering the limit to 20 mph improves the way local streets function in more ways than one. According to the 20's Plenty for Us campaign, the change has produced wide-ranging benefits, including less traffic, increased walking and biking, greater independence for children, the elderly and infirm, better health, and calmer driving conditions for motorists.

The mission of 20's Plenty For Us is to establish 20 mph as the default speed limit on all residential roads in the UK. I recently met up with the campaign's founder, Rod King, as well as other advocates in the towns of Warrington and York, to understand how the idea of slowing down traffic has spread so fast throughout the country.

Transcript Divas

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London’s Do-It-Yourself Approach to Safer Streets

In the UK, the non-profit Sustrans is pioneering a community-based method to reclaim streets from high-speed traffic and make neighborhoods safer and more sociable places.

Called "DIY Streets," the program brings neighbors together to help them redesign their streets in a way that puts people, safety, and streetlife first. So far, individual streets have benefited from DIY redesigns in 11 communities in England and Wales. Recently Streetfilms got a walk through of one successful DIY project -- on Clapton Terrace in London. With the people who made it happen as our guides, we saw how planners and neighbors collaborated to transform a place where speeding used to rule into a local street with calm traffic and safe space to socialize.

Can the DIY model work on a bigger scale than an individual street? We're about to find out: Residents of the London Borough of Haringey will soon be working with Sustrans on the first neighborhood-wide DIY project.

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Rethinking Streets in Paris

Back in July I made a video about Paris' public bicycle system, Velib. Its success must in part be credited to the provisions made for safe cycling and the understood "street code," where users are responsible for others whose vehicles are lighter than their own.

This video explores traffic calming amenities Paris has installed. For example, in several areas of Paris curbs have been removed and bikes, pedestrians, buses and taxis coexist at low speeds. On wider roads bikes share the BRT lanes with buses and taxis. Counter-flow bike lanes expand the bike network. Raised crosswalks and neckdowns slow traffic and make pedestrians more visible at intersections. Watch for more.

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Daylighting: Make Your Crosswalks Safer

Daylighting is a simple pedestrian safety measure achieved by removing parking spaces adjacent to curbs around an intersection, increasing visibility for pedestrians and drivers and minimizing conflicts. It's beneficial to young and old, but is especially helpful to children, who often cannot see, or be seen by, oncoming traffic. By removing parking adjacent to the crosswalk, the child does not have to wade into the street to see vehicles entering the intersection. At the same time, drivers don't have to roll into the crosswalk to see if pedestrians are waiting to cross.

Compare the photos below, showing the sight line difference with and without a parked car.

Neighborhoods around NYC and beyond are nearly shouting for daylighting to be implemented for safer streets. Streetfilms went to Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan to check out what some neighborhood leaders have to say. And though we love the concept, we think the term, Daylighting, is a little stale. So how about some suggestions? As you'll see, we came up with one, "Pedestrian Peek-a-boo," but we're sure there are others out there.

Learn about daylighting on Streetswiki.

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A New Vision for the Upper West Side

Supporters of a greener, safer and more livable Upper West Side were joined by elected officials, renowned urban planner Jan Gehl and P.S. 87 students in the Livable Streets Education program, to celebrate the launch of the "Blueprint for the Upper West Side: A Roadmap for Truly Livable Streets," at P.S. 87 on Thursday. Check out The Upper West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign on Livable Streets to learn more about the plan and how you can take action to make changes in your neighborhood.

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Transforming NYC Streets: A Conversation with Janette Sadik-Khan

Since taking over as New York City's Commissioner of the Department of Transportation in mid-2007, Janette Sadik-Khan has taken on the challenge of making NYC streets more bike & pedestrian friendly while emphasizing livable streets and re-orienting them to accommodate all modes. She and her staff have done it quickly with innovative concepts, thinking outside the box and drawing on successful street designs from around the world to come up with a NYC model that is already changing the way our city feels.

In our exclusive Streetfilms interview, she talks with The Open Planning Project's Executive Director, Mark Gorton, about some of the highlights her department has achieved in a very short period of time including a physically-separated bike lane on Ninth Avenue, multiple pedestrian plazas (including Madison Square and Broadway Boulevard), new efforts to boost efficiency and speeds on some bus routes, and the city's phenomenally successful, Ciclovia-style closure "Summer Streets".

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Contra-flow Bike Lane – Boulder, CO

Boulder, Colorado recently achieved the creme de la creme - Platinum bike status from the League of American Bicyclists so Streetfilms decided to pay the city a visit to get the scoop. Among the many bicycle amenities the city can boast, none spoke to us more than the contra-flow bicycle lane that runs three city blocks, connecting their popular Pearl Street pedestrian mall to a vital link of interconnected greenways. Streetfilms was impressed - and a little bit obsessed - by it.

Marni Ratzel, the Bike and Pedestrian Transportation Planner for GO Boulder met up with us to talk about the art of contra-flowing.

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Gary Toth: Reinventing Transportation Planning as Community Development

Recently, we were very lucky to have Streetsblog's Editor-in-chief, Aaron Naparstek in the "Streetfilms Headquarters" to chat with Gary Toth the Senior Director of Transportation Initiatives with the Project for Public Spaces.

For thirty-four years, Mr. Toth worked for the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and become known for his collaboration and facilitation skills, and was one of the architects of the transformation of NJDOT to a stakeholder inclusive process helping the state become a national leader in Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS).

Mr. Toth has written, "A Citizen's Guide to Better Streets," which is designed to help the every person and advocacy community better understand the behind-the-scenes processes that occur when dealing with transportation departments and how to better prepare and speak their language. He shares some of his views and advice with Aaron in this very important interview.

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LPI – Leading Pedestrian Interval

Leading Pedestrian Intervals (or LPIs) are a traffic signalization strategy that assigns pedestrians an exclusive 3 to 5 second signal (in some cases much longer) to begin crossing the street before cars get a green light. Consequently, they are also known by their sassier nickname, Pedestrian Head Start. But in my view the best variation on what LPI stands for comes from Christine Berthet of the Hells Kitchen Neighborhood Association who proposes: "Life Preserving Interval". That's what it is.

Transportation Alternatives has recently begun a push to make these more common in NYC. Here's hoping our video (featuring some nice visuals from TOPP's own Carly Clark) can help aid the case and explain what this arcane phrase means.

StreetFilms
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Street Transformations: Grand Army Plaza

As one gentleman said to me while admiring the new greenery and traffic islands in Grand Army Plaza, "Wow, sometimes government does work!" It's easy to quickly forget how things were, but we here at Streetfilms aim to not let that happen. Check out these extraordinary before/afters; especially the new separated bike lane which safely shepherds riders from Prospect Park.

How'd we get here? Check out: Grand Army Traffic Survey, Reclaiming Grand Army, Minding the GAP.

StreetFilms
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Animation: Diverter

Traffic calming stop-animation #3.

Diagonal diverters, half closures, entrance barriers, median barriers, semi-diverters; traffic calming techniques come in all shapes and sizes. They can help create more livable communities. As demonstrated in this short animation, once the diverters are in place, traffic decreases on the side street. Cars on the side street must turn left, but cyclists can continue straight. This makes the side street safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Related traffic calming animations:
Chicane
Raised Crosswalks

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Chicanes In My Neighborhood

With sincerest apologies to Fred Rogers, let's go for a walk in Clarence Eckerson's Neighborhood - where you will see a livable streets phenomenon created by (gulp!) double-parked cars.

On alternate side of the street parking days, many communities in Brooklyn have worked out a deal so car owners are allowed to double park with impunity so the streets can get their weekly brushing. (Okay, let's not touch that argument today.) During the interim switchover when drivers are relocating their cars - usually lasting about 15 to 20 minutes - chicanes are temporarily created, which delightfully slow car speeds to more human levels.

We're always trying to enlighten the public here at Streetfilms, by getting inventive using already existing street reality to placate opponents of traffic calming. (Remember our snowy neckdowns?) To add, yes, I have seen vans and small trucks successfully navigate narrow blocks like these. Also please note: in my travels, typical neckdown installations are usually much less drastic then the conditions created here.

StreetFilms
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Raised Crosswalk

This stop-animation Streetfilm illustrates the advantages of adding a raised crosswalk.

Raised crosswalks are Speed Tables outfitted with crosswalk markings and signage to channelize pedestrian crossings, providing pedestrians with a level street crossing. Also, by raising the level of the crossing, pedestrians are more visible to approaching motorists.

Raised crosswalks are good for locations where pedestrian crossings occur at haphazard locations and vehicle speeds are excessive.

Previous animation: Chicanes (:24)