RECLAIMING URBAN SPACE: A Study of Arterial Street Redesigns
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Arterial streets, because of their commonly accepted function of optimizing safe and efficient traffic flow, tend to be automobiledominated by definition. However, their role as primary linkages among neighborhoods and regions suggests that they can serve a broader function in the internal cohesion of cities. Indeed, many communities are now searching for ways in which arterial streets can provide walkable, inviting, human-scale urban space while also supporting appropriate traffic movement. Because municipal capital-project budgets tend to be severely constrained, redesign measures must also be cost-effective and produce clear results in the public perception of the affected streets. The purpose of this project is to study how the design of the street cross-section can advance these goals. Specifically, what cross-sectional design strategies most effectively create good urban space in arterial corridors? The effort to answer this question focuses on five arterial streets that underwent recent cross-sectional design changes aimed at improving conditions for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, drivers, business owners, and residents. The costs and benefits of each redesign are analyzed in terms of both economics and urban design, using before-and-after Google Street View images and GIS data.