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This is an exercise that deconstructs an urban and a suburban streetscape using the Restreet.com participatory design tool. Restreet was created by William Riggs, Mike Boswell and Ryder Ross in 2016 as a code fork from the Code for America project Streetmix. The idea was to democratize the way we plan streets and synthesize that data for policy and decision-making. The streets depicted show right-of-way needs eroding due to the prevalence of autonomous vehicles creating efficiency or the policy decision to do so in advance of their adoption. The final two slides show the submissions from the over 6,000 users since September and the related summary statistics. All suggest that policy that supports traffic calming and lane reductions to support multimodal transportation might be appropriate in the immediate future.
Riggs, Boswell and Ross describe their pilot street design project deploying Streetplan, a version of the opensource tool Streetmix. As part of the City of San Luis Obispo downtown revisioning project, their efforts inform the process, currently underway, of revising the Downtown Vision Concept Plan.
This policy paper focuses on the primary concept of the street as space that can be repurposed – real estate that can be allocated in similar or different ways than done currently. Cities generally refer to this publicly owned and regulated space from one side of the street to the other as the right of way (ROW). Our focus is on the centrality of the ROW in dictating many other community functions and values – transportation and otherwise. And our particular bias is to focus on the opportunities that AV technology is likely to create to rethink how the ROW is allocated, so that our communities can meet their substantial and unique environmental, social, and economic challenges.
In the 1960s, countercultural icon Timothy Leary popularized the phrase, "turn on, tune in, drop out," to describe the idea of using LSD and other psychedelic drugs to detach from society and achieve a higher level of thinking. Later in his life, he argued that the personal computer was the "LSD of the 1990s"—at that time having no inkling how much automation and augmented reality would play in our society, or how autonomous vehicles might change the way we connect with others. Might automated vehicles (AVs) be one of the ways that humans "tune in, turn on" and disconnect for the next few decades?
"While recent policies directed toward multimodal or complete streets have encouraged increased funding for bicycle- and pedestrian oriented projects, many streets are still plagued by unsafe conditions. This is especially true for one-way streets, which studies show often create unsafe crossing conditions. This study evaluates changes to street dynamics after a two-way street conversion in Louisville, Kentucky. We find that traffic flow increased after implementation of two-way flow, but traffic accidents decreased. We also note other ancillary benefits, such as increase in property values and reduced crime. These results provide evidence that conversions can promote mobility, safety, and livability."
The article outlines the scope of the emerging transportation technologies and how far they can go. It doesn't have to be just about the autonomous cars and how they interact and react with our communities, but how we can work on preparing the rest of the environment to also interact with them.
With AVs on the brink of roll-out, what is next? How do our streets evolve and where does our capital begin to go? This article discusses some possibilities on the ways we may be able to better our streets without widening the roads to fit more cars.
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