For the moment, it is not surprising that two frequent objections are
- How do we accommodate all the through-traffic?
- What about parking? We don't have enough parking downtown
|On Chemeketa - Yes, in the NY Times (via the SJ/AP)|
While it is true that assembling in the streets shouldn't have to be considered a primary function of streets, not anyway in a just and well-functioning city and nation, it is an important one, and sometimes may need to supersede car traffic and through-movement.
Our autoism has distorted our sense of what a street is for.
A just theory of civic street function will include many purposes beyond moving cars.
The Strong Towns typology is an important move away from our distorted notions about streets:
- A road is an efficient connection between two places. It is high speed and safe, which implies that it has limited access (intersections are inherently unsafe at high speeds) and highway geometries. It is essentially a replacement for the railroad which was, as its name suggests, a road on rails.
- In contrast, streets create a platform for capturing value. A properly designed street will maximize the value of the adjacent development pattern in ratio to the infrastructure investment within the public realm. To do this, auto traffic will be slow and will (equally) share space with other modes of transport, including pedestrians, bikers and transit alternatives.
- A STROAD is a street/road hybrid. And yes, I have often called it the "futon of transportation alternatives". Where a futon is an uncomfortable couch that also serves as an uncomfortable bed, a STROAD is an auto corridor that does not move cars efficiently while simultaneously providing little in the way of value capture. Anytime you are driving between 30 and 50 miles per hour, you are likely on a STROAD, which has become the default option for American traffic corridors. Cities wishing to be Strong Towns should have a active policy for reducing the amount of STROADS within the community.
|Even with sharrows Chemeketa remains uncomfortable for many|
|People create the value, not cars|
Streets are not just for cars. As a single instance, the march in Salem (and in aggregate the largest protest ever in American history!) may seem like an exceptional event, a singularity rather than rule, but even so it's an important counter-example to autoist conceptions of street function.