Using the Wrong Metrics for Creating Great Streets

Gary Toth considers the damage to the quality of our streets and urban environments caused by the use of travel projection models and Levels of Service (LOS) as performance metrics.

1 minute read

February 8, 2012, 1:00 PM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


Toth explains how the current reliance on these metrics, aimed at reducing or avoiding congestion, came about, and notes that, "In ridding our communities of the weeds of congestion, we have also pulled out the very plants that made our "gardens" worthwhile in the first place."

According to Toth, overdesigned roads, resulting from a "self-imposed" requirement to maintain high levels of service at the busiest hours (and often for 20 years into the future), "encourage motorists to drive at higher speeds, making them difficult to cross and unpleasant to walk along. This degrades public spaces between the edges of the road and the adjacent buildings, encourages people to drive short distances, and generally unravels a community's social fabric.

Thankfully, "Recognizing the need for balance, a number of entities are beginning to promote approaches sensitive to the context," writes Toth, who goes on to describe such efforts.

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