Urban Fold

Emergency Avenue

Your streets could be killing you -- or at least making it harder for emergency services to reach you in times of need.

A recent conference on sustainability with presentations by the Congress for New Urbanism's John Norquist and the Center for Neighborhood Technology's Jacky Grimshaw emphasized the connection between street design and emergency response.

"'If you have a street grid you can service lots of people, lots of houses with a certain amount of fire service,' Norquist said, 'but if everyone lives in a cul de sac then you need three or four times as many fire personnel to be able to service them at the same level.'

According to CNU, a study in Charlotte, North Carolina, indicating the per capita costs for fire service increased from $159 in the portion of the city with the best-connected street grid network to $740 in the least connected zone.

Grimshaw and Norquist both participated in a discussion on "Rethinking our Cities" as part of the Northwestern University Summit on Sustainability that took place in early April. The two made the point that infrastructure, specifically roads, are not something that necessarily needs protection, as much as they need to function effectively to protect citizens.

In 2010, both the CNT and CNU collaborated with the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the main standards body for road designers, to create a design manual for urban thoroughfares.

'It's available for free download at ite.org,' said Norquist."

Full Story: Designing Streets for Emergencies

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