UPDATE: We’ve uploaded the presentations given at the April CNU T3 for anyone to view. Click here to view and download the presentations.
KWA was excited to host another successful CNU Atlanta event last Thursday night. This month’s T3 topic focused on “Streets Designed for Placemaking & Safety.”
KW’s Eric Kronberg opened the discussion by illustrating that well-designed streets are not only an asset to placemaking, but that streets themselves are important public places, vital to our economy and quality of life, and should be treated as such. Heather Alhadeff, an experienced transportation planner and President of Center Forward, Inc., built upon Kronberg’s introduction by taking a deeper look into what policies and standards influence the way our streets are designed. Alhadeff explained that at both the national and state levels the prescriptive design standards used to design our roads prioritize the automobile to increase travel efficiency, giving little consideration to other road-users or their surrounding context. Not surprisingly, this adversely affects the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. What people may not consider, however, is that fewer pedestrians and faster design speeds means that surrounding businesses and communities suffer. Alhedeff gave many great examples of roads that are both sufficient at moving automotive traffic and at creating safe and pleasant spaces that people actually want to use.
Finally, Greg Giuffrida, the Memorial Drive Corridor Executive of Central Atlanta Progress, gave an excellent synopsis of how poor road design has affected Atlanta’s Memorial Drive, making it inadequate at safely moving traffic, people and bicyclists. Giuffrida continued by citing specific concerns that Memorial Drive Atlanta is addressing in order to improve this important East-West corridor for all users. Among the immediate major areas of focus were establishing consistent design standards, studying important multi-modal intersections (such as that proposed at the BeltLine and Bill Kennedy Way), testing circular bus routes, and identifying opportunities to enhance connections between neighborhoods and other assets across the Memorial corridor.
Perhaps sparked by the discussion of a familiar place in need of major improvements, the following Q & A centered on Atlanta’s street design policies and the economic and funding hurdles we face in our ultimate goal to implement great street design that considers placemaking and safety. The major takeaway from the discussion was that policies must change to allow our cities to adequately fund sidewalk and streetscape repair, and that currently citizens can generate the biggest impact by advocating for specifically allocated sidewalk/streetscape funds. If you are interested in looking deeper into the economics of street design and why great streets and public spaces make good economic sense, check out our past blog post Advice to Mayors.