Friday, May 6, 2011

Livable, Walkable Communities

The goal of transit/pedestrian-oriented design is to create livable, walkable communities where the pedestrian is the priority. Transit/pedestrian-friendly design goes far beyond simply providing sidewalks, bike lanes and bus stops, both land use and the transportation system must be designed to support and encourage alternative forms of transportation. Land uses need to be diverse and located in close proximity to transportation facilities.  Design needs to be at a human scale with buildings pulled up to the street and parking lots and driveways located to minimize their visibility and impact. Higher densities must exist at appropriate locations to create a critical mass of residents that make transit feasible.

There are many overlaps between transit/pedestrian-friendly design and traffic calming/livable streets initiatives, and many of the design techniques can apply when retrofitting existing development. Traffic calming programs, also known as “neighborhood traffic management” are design techniques used to slow down and control the flow of traffic in neighborhoods and other special focus areas. Measures often include placing speed humps and bulb-outs in the roadway, narrowing travel lanes by placing medians and bike lanes in the roadway, installing sidewalks and/or street trees, and installing street islands and well-marked, signalized crossings to increase pedestrian safety and slow traffic.

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