He showed several examples of cities and towns putting good street design into practice. It’s important to remember that the average person will outlive his ability to drive a car by 7 to 9 years. If you don’t live in a location where you can get around by other methods, you lose much independence and mobilization.
‘Street Design And Your School’ was the title of the afternoon session held at Lake Whitney Elementary. We learned that as much as 30% of rush hour traffic is attributed to transporting students to school. Dan showed us practical solutions that have been implemented to relieve traffic pressure at schools around the country. One popular tool is the roundabout. Other solutions were curb extensions, bike lanes of a contrasting color, mini circles, mountable medians, highly visible crosswalks, close vertical walls constructed of islands or trees, and large gutter pans (which make the road feel narrower to slow traffic).
Regarding roundabouts, specifically, these eliminate accidents by 90%, move 30% more traffic than a conventional intersection, and increase rather than decrease the adjacent property values as is common at busy intersections. Discussion ensued over roundabouts, as there is some confusion out there regarding roundabouts versus traffic circles and rotaries.
The last session of the day ‘Street Design and your Neighborhood’ drew the smallest crowd but concluded with good discussion. During this session, Dan asked the audience to name our values. Some that were mentioned were community, safety, walkability, green space, convenience, health, good schools, and prosperity. Yet, we all clearly saw how we are not building from this set of values. And to borrow a quote than Dan borrowed from John Steinbeck, “America is out of sync with its values.” Dan encouraged us that by identifying our values, we can lay out a whole town. For example, if we do indeed care about health and safety, we would work hard to implement complete streets which accommodate multiple modes of transportation – pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. These values we claim to hold dear should become part of our design palette.