Transforming Streets Into 'Urban Oases'

A new San Francisco plan seeks to follow in the footsteps of cities like Copenhagen and Portland in revitalizing streets, alleys, medians, and crosswalks. The goal is to bring the city's outdoors to its 'rightful place as the center of civic life.'

The San Francisco Better Streets Plan, a 250-page plan a year in the making, will one day be used as a design and development guideline for projects that touch city streets.

Planted medians would run down the middle of major thoroughfares, flower beds and vegetable gardens would separate traffic lanes from sidewalks, miniparks would take root in once-neglected alleyways, and pedestrians would find convenient and comfortable public benches to rest.

"The idea, the plan states, is to rethink the concept of streets as simply corridors for cars and trucks.

'We now recognize the numerous other roles that streets can play - from centers of community life, to supporters of our local shopping environment, to important open spaces and recreational opportunities, to key pieces of the city's ecological infrastructure,' according to the proposal.

'This plan is really about looking at 25 percent of the land area in the city,' said John Rahaim, San Francisco's planning director, noting that streets, sidewalks and other public spaces take up a quarter of the city's land."

Full Story: Landscaping S.F. walkways and byways

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