Livable Streets Promised Land


Here’s a nice visual of what cities will look like when the livable streets movement has completely emerged from the wilderness (sorry for the extended metaphor, couldn’t help it today). GOOD Magazine ran this photosim done by our very own Carly Clark in their transportation issue, with text by Streetsblog Editor-in-Chief Aaron Naparstek. They’ve got a whole interactive graphic that walks you through the elements of a livable street, and — hats off to my coworkers — it looks great.

GOOD is also putting on a photosim contest where readers can submit their own designs for a livable street. If you send something in, don’t worry too hard about impressing the jury. Aaron will be the only judge.

We’ll be taking a break from posting on Streetsblog tomorrow. Enjoy the matzoh ball soup and Cadbury eggs everyone. See you back here on Monday.

  • John

    I love the contest, but I have a few nit-picks about the example.

    1. Speed humps at a signalized intersection are ridiculous. If you need to, raise the whole intersection.
    2. I’m not optimistic that a tree can grow that well in such a narrow median, nor that it would provide adequate horizontal clearance.
    3. I’m wondering how the snow will be plowed in that 5′ bike lane with the extra barrier between the bike lane and the bus lane.

  • Glenn

    I like this, but I like what’s coming to Broadway even more.

  • I’m confused about the two automobile traffic lanes (on the right by the JCC). Can the designers clarify the following?

    (1) Has on-street parking been completely removed?
    (2) Are delivery vehicles and taxis allowed to stop in the right-hand lane to drop off and pick up goods and passengers?

  • 3. I’m wondering how the snow will be plowed in that 5′ bike lane with the extra barrier between the bike lane and the bus lane.

    The same way the 9th Ave bike paths are plowed–with the tiniest, cutest damn snowplows you’ll ever see.

    Seriously, they are like little golf-carts with snow shovels on the front. Adorable.

  • Urbanis, I think I can answer your first question. There are neckdowns on both corners; I believe there’s parking along the street before the neckdown juts out to making the crossing easier for pedestrians.

  • I would get rid of one of the car lanes and use that space to create a double-wide bike lane and a wider median (wide enough to support healthy trees).

    If we are going to make street changes to shift people from automobile to bicycle, we should provide a double bike lane, so bicyclists can easily pass slower bicyclists or bicyclists who are stopped waiting to make a turn. Notice that, in the picture, the one bicyclists waiting for the light to change fills up the bike lane, making it impossible for other cyclists to pass.

  • So this is what the world will look like in the 2nd life

  • that looks fantastic! love the image–wish i lived on that street.

    oh, and much praise for GOOD’s transportation issue! i devoured it.

  • Jen

    I also love this vision. It would certainly need adjustment to make it applicable to each city, but isn’t it a lovely dream? I agree with the poster about needing wider bike lanes. I have a double trailer and a sidecar for my kids (to keep them from killing each other in the double), and we would never fit smoothly in that narrow bike lane. See a pic here:

  • Regarding the visualization above, what kind of meshuga idea is that for a bike lane? Between the buses and the median? As a cyclist, I would feel trapped, with no flexibility to check out the stores or PEOPLE on the side of the street. As others mentioned, it also seems two narrow for two cyclists to ride side-by-side.

    The bus lane is okay I suppose (though just a dedicated lane, not really any form of true BRT.) Nice street surfaces, though perhaps a little demarcation-heavy. Trees are green as trees should be (though don’t forget what this will look like about six months of the year.). I don’t see any permanent street furniture (and I mean for sitting, not for ads for cars being used to fund “free” bikes.)

    The main problem of course is that a little over half of the non-pedestrian space is still dedicated for cars, and including the bus and bike spaces it is all about Holy Traffic Flow, the Omega Molecule of Throughput (and why not? This street seems to have some off-street parking, based on that large sign. So why have something that no one can get to?)

    Clearly examples like this of “complete streets” are better than most current designs for the spaces between buildings, but if the starting pointing was the bottom of a latrine in Hell, a JCDecaux public toilet (provided in trade for ads encouraging people to eat too much) has to be an improvement.

    Many of us had it pounded into our heads that a “complete breakfast” includes juice, toast, cereal milk and meat.. and a good deal of us eventually realized that this was NOT the case, that it was just a marketing slogan by the various involved industries. Similarly, in the current way that “complete streets” is used, cars are bacon and perhaps milk is the desire for flow…(at least for me as I am lactose-intolerant). Complete streets – along with its fully un-demarcated European first cousin Shared Space – is a car-preservation plan, i.e. a car-industry preservation plan. As my friend says: “Green capitalism will save us! we just need more astroturf PR scams to convince affluent white people that their street could have a more aesthetically pleasing arrangements of cars!” Indeed, this marketing plan is fully endorsed by the people who call themselves eco-friendly.

    What I suggest is that a new starting point, a new definition of “complete”, is that simple and peaceful place between buildings for people to meet, talk and play. Every compromise to move people faster (starting with bikes and then with trams, buses, etc. unless it makes more sense to put these underground) is understood to be something to make the street LESS complete.

  • Albert Ahronheim

    As appealing as this visualization is even with its shortcomings, I’d like to see a visualization of a more liveable 2-way street (Broadway or York), which is already more liveable because it encourages lingering and neighborhooding. (Well, at least York seems to.) Unlike the 1-way Avenue-To-Get-Thru that GOOD Magazine valiantly attempts to band-aid.

  • Brooklyn

    Cluttered. Addresses every problem while not particularly solving any one.

  • It’s really important to create visualizations such as this–BRAVO!

    You also *really* should ensure that such a visualization incorporates the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Detectable warning strips would be just the start. Your curb ramps could be wider, and the street signs could be visible.

    Recognize, I do, that it is always easier to critique than create.


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