Walking Advocates

 

Engineering

Skinny Streets – How and Why

Many residential streets built today are up to 40’ wide. Ironically, this is often driven by fire officials, who fail to understand that this width encourages speeding, resulting in a far greater safety risk than that posed by relatively rare house fires. For low-volume residential streets, a width of 26’-28’ keeps speeds low while still providing access to fire trucks and other large vehicles. Skinny streets provide many co-benefits, including reduced stormwater runoff, lower maintenance costs, and reduced heat-island effect. Available resources are as follows:

  • Two StreetsWiki articles — on Skinny Streets and Lane Width summarize safety arguments and provide links to the literature on narrow streets.
  • Street Design Guidelines for Healthy Neighborhoods – This reference, available from the Local Government Commission, was developed by a multi-disciplinary team based upon field visits to over 80 traditional and 16 neo-traditional neighborhoods. Optimal street cross-sections provided for all street types, from alleys to multi-lane boulevards.
  • AASHTO “Green Book” — This “bible” from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is often cited incorrectly by traffic engineers as “requiring” wide streets. On the contrary, it supports narrow widths such as 26’ on low volume residential streets. Hint: Many traffic engineers don’t actually read the references they cite, and remember them incorrectly.
  • Emergency Response: Traffic Calming and Traditional Neighborhood Streets — An excellent guide on showing fire officials how to ensure for themselves that skinny streets will accommodate their needs . Available as a free download from the Local Government Commission.
  • Oregon Neighborhood Street Design Guidelines (2001) — An Oregon statewide stakeholder group, including fire officials, residents, and traffic engineers developed these standards to the satisfaction of all parties. Includes many additional citations.

Sidewalk Requirements for New Development

Under construction

Network Length

Under construction

Sidewalk and Curb Ramp Inventory

Under construction

Pedestrian Bridges

Under construction

Signal Timing and Audible Signals

Under construction

Crosswalks

Under construction

Roadway Design Features

Under construction

Innovative Treatments

Under construction

Traffic Calming

Under construction