Streets, Roads and Stroads

Over the last few days, I’ve written about two accidents in Salt Lake County that injured and killed bicyclists. In both instances, I argued that street design was at least partially to blame for the carnage.

More specifically, the problem may be that the cyclists were riding on “stroads.” According to the blog Stroad to Boulevard a stroad is

a street-road hybrid that frustrates everybody who uses it. Roads connect clusters of destinations, streets are the spaces between those local destinations. Roads are fast, wide and straight; streets have intersections, crosswalks, parking, cyclists and sidewalks.

Stroads are commonly called Arterials in North America. They are an anachronism, surviving only by inertia from 1960s traffic engineering guidebooks.

A recentĀ letter to the editor of the Miami Herald had an even better name for this kind of street: “unloveable auto sewers.”

Anyway, among other things Stroad to Boulevard is looking at ideas that come from The Boulevard Book and is trying to emphasize the challenges presented by streets that are designed only for cars. I’ll probably return to the blog over time because there was a ton of great content, but for now I think it’s simply worth remembering that for decades planners apparently have been designing cities as if nearly every street were a road. Realistically that can’t work, so we get stroads, along with accident after accident involving bikes and pedestrians.

Is University Ave a street or a road? Or a stroad?

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13 Comments

Filed under biking, commuting

13 responses to “Streets, Roads and Stroads

  1. andrewhart5

    Great points. I love those names: “stroads” and “unlovable auto sewers.”
    I hope that when BRT makes its way onto University Ave, the stroad that it is will appear smaller and less threatening to cross due to a loading ramp (is that what they’re called) in the middle. Trees wouldn’t hurt either.

  2. drew

    I think we have BY to thank for the biggest problem — all the stroads are far too wide. Add a lazy, cars-only mentality, and you get the current situation.

    Fixing this would require gutting the current layout and intentionally making most of the roads much narrower, adding half-blocks, parking, separated bike lanes, etc. Anything to encourage anything but driving.

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