Older Streets are Safer Streets

Via Planetizen, a study suggests that older streets may be safer than those engineered to current standards.

11 responses to “Older Streets are Safer Streets”

  1. It has nothing to do with widening arterial roads, it has to do with the side streets much more.

    In case you missed it:

    For several decades, traffic specialists believed a tree-like hierarchy of streets was superior because it made residential neighborhoods quieter and presumably safer. But an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) study cited by the UConn researchers points out that more-connected street networks tend to reduce travel speeds. That’s important because even a small reduction in speed can boost safety — mainly by reducing the severity of the accidents.

  2. This really isn’t a question of urban versus suburban or even city v. city it really comes down to development patterns. East County was built primarily after WWII and has these characteristics but is now part of the city of Portland. I suspect that even if it had been part of Portland from day 1 the development would have been similar.

    It was the prevailing wisdom of the time. It is easy for Portland to throw stones when there are no large sections of land currently being developed within its city limits. That said, clearly encouraging speed via large, wide, arterial streets will lead to more accidents.

    Can someone give an example of a large New Urbanism development in the Metro area? I assume there are, but don’t know where and would like to check it out. I’m specifically thinking of something built from the ground up,not redeveloped on an exist grid or a pocket development..

  3. Of the top of my head. I would say Villebois in Wilsonville and Orenco Station in Hillsboro. Villebois is about 500 acres, but Orenco is only 190 acres or so. Large by Portland standards, not so big if you compared it to some developments in CA or Florida.

    I thought I could be clever once and try to get Orenco Station using side streets and managed to get myself caught in a maze of cul de sacs in the neighboring subdivisions. Anybody know if any Portland area jurisdiction has reconfigured (or even thought of it) cul de sacs into a more connective road system. Nationally?

  4. I always enjoy the speed bumps that usually get installed a few months later on the highly engineered new streets.

    Why not just make them narrower in the first place?

  5. i have to give props to vancouver for converting several of their streets downtown back from one way to two way. everyone in downtown vancouver is commenting on how much better this arrangement is for pedestrians, merchants and motorists.

    its kind of odd to me that portland is doing just the opposite with burnside/couch and did so several years ago with 10/11th becoming one way? why not convert some downtown portland streets to two way traffic?

  6. ws: Or build a grid or hub/spoke style neighborhood so you don’t have to drive (or walk or bike) 2 miles to get to a store that’s 1/4 a mile away.

  7. My personal preference is that wide streets should be two-way and narrow streets should be one-way.

    One-ways on narrow streets allows for longer vehicles to turn easier. If you’re a pedestrian, you can hop across the street without fighting traffic coming in two directions.

    Two-way streets, though, allow for better exposure by cars to restaurants and shops, which is nice too. They also increase the “friction” between cars, creating a slower driving environment (like 23rd).

    While Portland has a lot of one way streets, it also has 200 foot half-blocks, which is very easy for cutting around (in a car or walking) to get on another street

    Compare our blocks to the super blocks in NY (900′ long) and I’m wondering why they have so many one-way streets and haven’t changed some of them.

    I’d bet Portland will follow suit with what Vancouver is doing, and I think they should one some streets.

  8. Grand and MLK feel like freeways to me. If they really want to revitalize this area then slowing some of that traffic would be key IMHO.

  9. Dave: Or build a grid or hub/spoke style neighborhood so you don’t have to drive (or walk or bike) 2 miles to get to a store that’s 1/4 a mile away.

    Please provide, with latitude/longitude or a Google Maps link, an actual example of a house that is 1/4 mile away from a store but the closest travel distance is 2 miles.

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