“Complete streets” is a phrase used to indicate streets that are designed for cars, bikers public transit, and pedestrians. It’s a popular idea in the planning world, but this article argues that streets should just be more than a means of getting somewhere. Instead, they should be destinations themselves:
“Neighborhood streets can be places where parents feel safe letting their children play, and commercial strips can be designed as grand boulevards, safe for walking and cycling, allowing for both through and local traffic.”
This topic is very much related to the fundamental difference between “roads” and “streets,” as explained in this video.
In any case, I’d recommend reading the whole article above but just in case, here are the rules it suggests for making safe, attractive and useful streets:
1. Think of streets as public spaces. The article notes that streets can be public gathering places. Effective sidewalks are also necessary:
“Sidewalks are the urban arterials of cities. Make them wide, well lit, stylish, and accommodating. Give them benches, outdoor cafés, and public art.”
2. Plan for community outcomes. In other words, what kinds of interactions do cities want to cultivate? Poorly thought out streets can cause all sorts of problems:
“Poor land use planning, by contrast, generates thousands of unnecessary vehicle trips, clogging up roads and further degrading the quality of adjacent places.”
3. Design for appropriate speeds. This one is fairly self-explainitory. I think Provo did a good job with this on Center Street, but other areas of the city could use improvement because:
“Speed kills the sense of place. Cities and town centers are destinations, not raceways, and commerce needs traffic — foot traffic.”
Thinking about streets is perhaps not the sexiest thing out there, but it’s so basic and fundemental to the success of an area that it can hardly be ignored. Luckily, these concepts provide a way to begin thinking about how streets impact numerous aspects of everyday life.