Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wide streets = Fast Cars = Unsafe areas for pedestrians

The ongoing obsession by a majority of cities and towns to create plans, standards and to build roads whose size is beyond any needed capacity is hazardous to the safety of it's people. The codes requiring overly wide streets are usually written by traffic engineers or by the "bigger is better" crowd. Neither focuses on the safety issues of pedestrians and children related to neighborhood streets. For example, we live next to a boulevard street that is designed for at least 2 lanes each way (they're not striped - that's another matter). I don't have an exact number, but from everday observation, the traffic count is extremely low and nowhere near the service level that would demand such a wide street system. The issue here is that because the street is overly wide, automobiles travel very fast on it - as it's perceived by drivers to be safe to do so ( no matter the posted speed limit signs). Adding insult to injury the street has no sidewalks adjacent to the curbs - so adults and children must walk or ride their bikes in the traffic lanes. A short sighted County engineer, planner, or official made this decision to build a road like this with no regard to PEOPLE, to safety.

I've been to enough public meetings to know that some will say, "Well the road is there for cars! Those people shouldn't be using it at all, or they should walk in the grassy area next to the road..." The statements are correct, but incomplete. Roads, since the Roman days have been built to provide transportation. The word "transportation" being interpreted broadly. Therefore local streets should be designed for both pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The issue here is that local land planners, engineers, and elected officials decided some time ago that they don't really give a damn whether citizen's have a safe place to walk. Their only thought is automobiles and the movement thereof. I don't blame the traffic engineers as that's their job - they move traffic - find the best most efficient way to move traffic. Who's to blame? Politicians, appointed officials, City Planners and ultimately us.

There's so much to be said about land planning and the obsession with Cities focus on cars - rather than on serving people - and how these issues reveal themselves. We'll talk more later.


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