Shared streets

December 16, 2010, 10am PST
Shared streets -- the idea that pedestrians, bikes and cars can all navigate together in the same space -- is a fundamental rethinking of the underlying philosophy related to the design and operation of transportation facilities, write Norman W. Garrick and James G. Hanley.
Norman Garrick
December 6, 2010, 1pm PST
Designers and "movement specialists" in Great Britain are pioneering various street designs that aim to bring traffic speeds down to teens, which they claim is the speed range that allows vehicles to safely share a space with pedestrians.
New Urban Network
October 15, 2010, 7am PDT
English architect Ben Hamilton-Baillie sees possibility in a section of Harvard Square that has all the qualities of a "woonerf"; mainly, that cars, bikes and pedestrians all share the street equally.
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy blog
Blog post
May 14, 2009, 9am PDT

Shared streets, the contemporary vernacular used to describe streets that have been intentionally redesigned to remove exclusive boundaries for pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, etc., work well within a special set of conditions.  It is, in reality, just a new way of describing the original use of streets (see this previous post for more on that).  The most promising candidates for shared streets are those where traffic volumes are not too heavy, the route is not a critical corridor for vehicular through-traffic, activities and attractions along the street are plentiful, short distance connectivity is viable, and a critical mass of pedestrians (perhaps enough to pack sidewalks at certain times) exists.  A shared street may also be suitable in places where there is a desire to induce such conditions; however, care must be taken to understand the larger network effects of shifting or slowing down vehicular traffic.  But in some instances, seemingly unrelated changes to traffic patterns or the effects of a coincidental collection of the above conditions sometimes go unnoticed until a street that may have been all about cars gradually shifts into something I refer to as a “de facto shared street”.

Ian Sacs
Blog post
April 20, 2009, 5am PDT
 At a company presentation about environmental impact the other week a colleague included a historic photograph of Scollay Square in Boston.  You are pardoned if, even after visiting or living in that city, this doesn’t sound familiar because all prominent characteristics of the area were summarily obliterated in the mid-twentieth century to make way for a potpourri of brutalist-style administrative buildings and renamed Government Center.  Urban redevelopment arguments aside, the photograph reveals a particularly interesting detail about the function and use of streets virtually erased from our minds over the last century. 


Ian Sacs