Barcelona’s Superblocks: Change the Grid, Change your Neighborhood

Over two years ago, Barcelona set the transportation world aflutter when it announced it would be attempting to reinvent parts of its city by developing a Superblock system by transforming targeted street grids to prioritize people over cars. On selected small street networks large parts of intersections and roadways would be taken back for parks and community gathering. Vehicles would not be banned, but it would redesign the grids so that fast thru-traffic was discouraged thru a series of driving direction changes, street narrowing and speed limits. Thus, almost all vehicles present would be either local residents or people with … Read more

The Copious Capacity of Street Grids

The Commons in Downtown Ithaca. Wikimedia Commons Historic street grids can handle greater traffic of all kinds—so why aren’t we building more of them? ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    JUN. 28, 2018 As far as I have been able to determine, no one has ever scientifically compared the capacity of historic street grids with modern road systems. If they did, this comparison is well hidden—which is amazing because the US has invested trillions of dollars on automobile-oriented street networks on the principle that these networks have greater ability to handle motor vehicles. On the contrary, I propose that historic street grids have greater capacity … Read more

Why Street Grids Have More Capacity

The greater choice offered by well-connected street networks leads to more capacity and efficiency, according to pioneering smart growth engineer Walter Kulash. ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    JUL. 31, 2018 I recently posted “The copious capacity of street grids” making the case that traditional street networks are not just better for walking, biking, and livability, but also offer far greater vehicle capacity. In the comment section, somebody posted a link to a long-forgotten talk by Walter Kulash. Walter Kulash was the original traffic engineer who promoted walkable urbanism. In a presentation to the “Annual Pedestrian Conference” in 1990, Kulash explains the virtues of “Traditional Neighborhood Development,” then a nascent … Read more

Renovating a Multipurpose Main Street

Greenville Avenue’s new streetscape (Source: City of Dallas)    Streetscape improvements have helped bring back an 18-hour-a-day character to the corridor. Crime has dropped and property values have risen.    Note: This case study was written for the Institute for Transportation Engineers new bookImplementing Context Sensitive Design on Multimodal Thoroughfares, funded by the Federal Highway Administration. Greenville Avenue is the main street of a 1920s “streetcar suburb,” Lower Greenville, four miles from downtown Dallas, Texas. The context had become automobile-oriented over the years as space was given over to motor vehicles and the design allowed for speeds uncomfortable to pedestrians. Businesses … Read more

25 Great Ideas of the New Urbanism

Rendering of I-980 in Oakland as a multi-way boulevard. Credit / Dover, Kohl & Partners The New Urbanism is a design movement toward complete, compact, connected communities—but it is also a generator of ideas that transform the landscape. Communities are shaped by the movement and flow of ideas, and the New Urbanism has been a particularly rich source of the currents that have directed planning and development in recent decades. This year the 25th annual Congress for the New Urbanism was held in Seattle. The 1,400 attendees, their friends and associates and like-minded people, are like sailors on the sea … Read more