Back when I proposed converting streets to housing one of my primary goals was to devise ways to make Provo streets smaller.
The idea is that big streets encourage speeding, cost the city and therefore taxpayers more, look ugly, and are unsafe. On top of that, the most stunning and beautiful places I’ve visited in the world have tended to have a tangle of really small streets. So it’s both an intellectual-economic argument, as well as a visceral one.
Then I discovered the website Small Streets, which argues that small streets are vitally important to cities:
For centuries, small streets served an integral role in our cities and towns. They provided intimate and nurturing spaces for families within walking distance of daily needs. Small streets added beauty and wonder to our neighborhoods.
Traditional cities and towns contained streets and spaces of a variety of sizes. Wide boulevards and plazas hosted grand public ceremonies and celebrations. Adjacent residential neighborhoods contained a mix of streets. Mid-sized streets and squares created spaces for homes, shops and public buildings. Small side streets nurtured spaces for raising families and small businesses.
On its various pages, the website explains why small streets are more lovable, sustainable, affordable and suited to families. The accompanying blog also includes a few examples of places with small streets.
Unfortunately, Provo has very few small streets. That situation can seem inevitable or inherent to the city, but it is not. In fact, its actually an aberration in human history; the massive neighborhood street and the stroad are actually modern inventions.
In any case, the point is that Provo would be a better, more beautiful and fiscally secure city if it had a greater variety of streets.