On the Pros and Cons of Driveways

Whether driveways are anti-urban or 'anti-pedestrian' depends on how we segregate street uses. As shared spaces where they cross sidewalks, driveways inform the wider question: what makes for a good street?

May 13, 2015, 1:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Japan Shared Space

yamauchi / Flickr

Are driveways anti-urban? That claim makes sense in North America, where pedestrian and vehicle street spaces are seen as mutually exclusive. The driveway, by definition, breaches a divide by allowing cars to cross the sidewalk. The result is often a series of pedestrian-unfriendly curb cuts, where the sidewalk dips to let cars ascend the curb.

The question then becomes: why have a raised curb at all? Historically, curbs provided a space for walkers away from street filth. But now, "with universal street paving, the replacement of beasts of burden by motor vehicles and rainwater collection systems, the reasons for the curb's existence don't seem all that significant." 

The article gives examples of how smaller Japanese streets forgo the curb in favor of shared space for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists. And on larger streets with high-speed vehicle traffic, physical barriers like trees and poles do a better job keeping cars from sidewalks.

In driveways' defense, the article notes that they can use space more efficiently than roadside parking, clearing the way for features like bike lanes. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015 in Urban Kchoze

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Four ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Zoning Reforms

An excerpt from the latest book on zoning argues for four approaches to reform that can immediately improve land use regulation in the United States.

June 26, 2022 - M. Nolan Gray

Car Traffic

San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

Rent

U.S. Rental Market Crosses a New Threshold of Affordability

In a first for the country's rental market, most U.S. apartments are asking for more than $2,000 to rent, according to data recently published by Redfin.

June 21, 2022 - Redfin

New Jersey Power Plant

Supreme Court Guts the U.S. EPA’s Ability to Limit Carbon Emissions

The consequences of this ruling have long been foretold. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now officially barred from the fight against climate change, Congress will have to act to reduce carbon emissions.

June 30 - Yahoo News

Central Los Angeles

California Approves Revised Los Angeles Housing Element

State officials officially approved the city’s housing plan, which was initially rejected for not doing enough to enhance housing equity.

June 30 - Urbanize LA

A fly fisher casts on a fog-covered river.

Lawsuit Could Open Public Access to Colorado Rivers

Colorado is one of few U.S. states that has decided that private property owners supersede the public when it comes to access to rivers and streams.

June 30 - High Country News

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

International Real Estate Strategies and Deal Negotiation

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Affordable Housing: Principles for Changing Domestic and Global Markets

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.