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Thread: Examples of narrow street standards?

  1. #1
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    Examples of narrow street standards?

    Here in our small Colorado town we are fighting the universal and epic battle with Public Works, trying to convince them to go below 32' street widths. So naturally, I searched Cyburbia and found a thread where several towns had narrower streets.

    We need examples of snowy towns that braved narrower streets. If I could find pictures of said streets, that would be even better. Images are the proverbial Wurlitzer of our just war.

    Thanks!

    p.s. pardon the war imagery. just got through watching the second season of "Rome".

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Well, when dealing with public works I'm inclined to use their own standard references against them:

    ITE Context Sensitive Solutions [Caution: MASSIVE pdf file]

    Page 148-150 discusses snow removal issues. Though this document is geared toward thoroughfares rather than local streets, there is still some application for your typical residential streets. I'd suggest including a wider planting strip between the sidewalk and street to accomodate the snow. Also, go with street trees with wider crowns so you don't need as many to achieve good shade cover--fewer tree trunks for snow to pile against and cause clearing problems.

    I work down south in Texas, so I can't offer much more than that for selling PW when they have concerns about snow removal. Down here it's usually some whining about fire trucks passing one another going opposite directions--blah blah blah.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
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    narrow

    Rochester, New York had a go at street reduction, visual and physical for traffic calming effect and neighborhood definition. Try Bob Thomas (who had seen this as the Woonerf Concept in Holland) in their planning department.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plan 9's avatar
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    How about Santa Fe, NM? Of course most of the skinny streets were laid out around the plaza in 1609! So by default most of them are one way, because they didn't have SUVs back then, unless you count the 8-horse wagon team.

    Unless you are a developer trying to save on pavement materials costs, why would you want to reduce street width...I'm fully on the side of public works and fire departments everywhere on this misguided attempt at traffic calming, just get the friggin cops to enforce the speed limit!
    "Future events such as these will affect you in the future."

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Reduced street width means higher build density, lower speeds on the roads without speed bumps (width and preferred speed are correlated) and lower construction costs. You get more road for your buck if it's narrower, and people drive slower on it, so you win both ways.
    Make sure you have a snow storage. The engineers in Alaska kept trying to push stuff on us like 'parking/snow storage' or 'sidewalk/snow storage'. Either give them a green strip or parking lot corner to put it in, or make them carry it away.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Plan 9 View post
    Unless you are a developer trying to save on pavement materials costs, why would you want to reduce street width...I'm fully on the side of public works and fire departments everywhere on this misguided attempt at traffic calming, just get the friggin cops to enforce the speed limit!
    It's a lot cheaper for a muni. to maintain a narrow road. It's a lot easier to enforce a speed limit on a narrow road.

    Cops aint' cheap.. especially with benefits calculated in.
    Another thing, how many times have you seen the fire department haul out their largest piece of equipment (you know, the one that is as long as a semi truck) to attack fires in a traditional 2-story max residential neighborhood? Zero you say? They don't need the width. I don't hear much in the news anyway about houses and building that burn down because they couldn't get the trucks down the narrow streets. They find a way.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have come across model ordinances and other guidance published by several states, although I cannot direct you to the web links. Try Minnesota, Noth Carolina, and Wisconsin.
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    Unless you are a developer trying to save on pavement materials costs, why would you want to reduce street width...I'm fully on the side of public works and fire departments everywhere on this misguided attempt at traffic calming, just get the friggin cops to enforce the speed limit!
    Reducing speed is not the only reason to have narrower streets though. Narrow streets encourage pedestrian activity and add to the aesthetics of the place. Thats a big reason why Santa Fe is such a desirable place to be.

    Call me crazy, but I don't think there's any way that cops can stop speeding on every 36' suburban street simultaneously.

    My theory is that if Hummers can manuever on streets so can a fire truck.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 21 Aug 2007 at 11:15 AM. Reason: fixed quote tags

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plan 9's avatar
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    "Another thing, how many times have you seen the fire department haul out their largest piece of equipment (you know, the one that is as long as a semi truck) to attack fires in a traditional 2-story max residential neighborhood"

    Actually a heck of a lot more than zero. I worked in a town of less than 20k that had only three full-time fire staff, the rest were volunteers. So when they had to come pick up something at city hall or went to grab a bite to eat, the equipment went with them, because they never knew when they would have to respond to a fire. It is also pretty common in small fire departments to take every piece of equipment they own to a fire, mostly just because some of the equipment they need may be on a different truck and they don't want to forget something.

    "They don't need the width."

    The width is so that they can still get vehicles by while they are fighting the fire, like say an ambulance

    "Narrow streets encourage pedestrian activity and add to the aesthetics of the place."

    In theory. Wide streets, say on Las Vegas Boulevard (the strip) doesn't seem to discourage pedestrian activity, and I have yet to see a scientific study that proves the opposite <shrug>


    "Thats a big reason why Santa Fe is such a desirable place to be."

    Having lived in Santa Fe, that statement is only true for the tourists that visit the plaza and Canyon Road. Ask most natives and they would probably love to see 3 more traffic lanes in each direction on Cerrillos Road.

    "Call me crazy, but I don't think there's any way that cops can stop speeding on every 36' suburban street simultaneously."

    True, but if there is a significant chance that the speeders can get caught, most rational people slow down. Its the threat of getting caught, not necessarily a cop on every corner...although that would cut crime too!

    "My theory is that if Hummers can manuever on streets so can a fire truck."

    Heh, and yes, I've driven hummers on City streets too, and it is not fun, believe me. I can't, however, say that I've driven a fire truck on city streets (yet), but they are significant longer than a hummer, which would logically make them harder to corner.

    I guess my bias for nice wide boulevards is showing. Nothing says you can't have nice wide parkways on both sides and even the middle to encourage pedestrian activity. I strongly feel that it is the (mature) trees, wide sidewalks (where two people can walk side by side), and the greenery that encourages pedestrian activity, not the width of the adjacent street. A trade off, which I've implemented a couple places was reduced lot length and area to make up for the extra parkway and 'standard' size streets, so that density and cost (at least the to the developer) were not big arguments against. As far as maintenance, 'standard' streets may cost a minimal amount more to maintain, but would still be much less than narrow streets with alleys behind the lots.
    "Future events such as these will affect you in the future."

  10. #10
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    In theory. Wide streets, say on Las Vegas Boulevard (the strip) doesn't seem to discourage pedestrian activity, and I have yet to see a scientific study that proves the opposite
    The Strip may be popular with pedestrians, but it isn't necessarily SAFE for pedestrians. From what I've heard from a LV Emergency Room nurse, there are many pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents on the strip. I've seen several close calls myself. Tourists seem to leave their better sense at home and jaywalk and cross against signals. That is why they've put up fences in the medians and installed several ped bridges.

    But back to the original subject, why can't the fire trucks be designed for smaller streets and not the other way around? In Philadelphia, they need vehicles that can fit in the many alleys, which I believe are just 8' curb to curb.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

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    I don't hear much in the news anyway about houses and building that burn down because they couldn't get the trucks down the narrow streets. They find a way.

    I think that's an excellent point. I've heard of houses burning down because the hydrants didn't work, or couldn't be opened, but not because the FD couldn't get there.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plan 9's avatar
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    Its too bad we don't have any fire fighters about, but I would hazard that besides leaving room for at least one lane of traffic, they prefer wider streets because when they are tearing through the neighborhood with sirens blasting, they don't want to have to worry about side swipping a line of parked cars because they only have six inches of clearance on both sides. I would guess that much narrower fire engines would not be practical either because they would risk tipping over on turns (hummers have very wide wheel bases to keep from turning over, a big improvement from the jeeps), kind of like triremes in a storm.

    If fire fighters can't get down a street, they have to hump hose to the fire from whereever they can. And just like everyone else, they prefer to do the least work possible to get the same result. The fire fighters can and do make do with what they are stuck with, but all of them that I have ever talked to prefer wider streets because it makes their life easier. In the same line of thought, I would guess that street sweepers prefer narrower streets!

    Heh, as far as the strip, yeah, people will always find a way to do something stupid if the opportunity presents itself, including climbing over fences and jumping into 8-10 lanes of traffic because they are too lazy (or drunk) to walk to the nice bridge. I still remember when you had to wait about a minute or two after the light turned green at Flamingo and the strip for all the peds to get off the way, and right hand turns, well, forget it.
    "Future events such as these will affect you in the future."

  13. #13
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Yeah, Jeff has experience as a firefighter and I sure would be willing to give you an answer.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by KarlCandy View post
    I don't hear much in the news anyway about houses and building that burn down because they couldn't get the trucks down the narrow streets. They find a way.
    Just playing devil's advocate:

    From the Boston Globe:

    Tragedy in Southie
    Bostonians know how precious are the hands of time. In 2002, firefighters said they arrived near the scene of a fire in South Boston within about four minutes of the first alarm. One hundred feet away from them, flames were flashing through a house on Bowen Street. Inside was Caitlin Orr, 8 years old.

    But outside, a fire engine was trying to turn onto Bowen, only to be thwarted by illegally parked cars. By the time firefighters finally tore through and reached Orr, her body was limp. She was later pronounced dead.

    Afterward, firefighters said that, as they were stuck on the street, they could almost feel the ethereal moments, at least 30 seconds of them, helplessly slip away.

    "That breaks my heart, that little girl," Christian said recently when asked about the incident, and the importance of time. "That's one we should never forget."

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Plan 9: I’m ok with having a few broad thoroughfares, as long as they are properly “boulervardized”. But I really don’t see why every secondary street needs to be so wide. It’s what gives US post-war neighborhoods that desolate, deserted, blasted appearance.
    I would guess the ideal width for a SFD residential street would be one parking lane each side and one narrow* drive lane each way.

    (* by narrow I mean that two normal cars have to slow to a walking pace to get by each other and an “asshole” car like a “hummer” would create a “yield road” situation).
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  16. #16
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    ...



    But outside, a fire engine was trying to turn onto Bowen, only to be thwarted by illegally parked cars...

    Just pointing out that street width was not the problem, illegally parked cars were.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  17. #17
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Just pointing out that street width was not the problem, illegally parked cars were.
    That is correct. However, this particular street is too narrow to allow any on-street parking and there are no driveways.

  18. #18
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    That is correct. However, this particular street is too narrow to allow any on-street parking and there are no driveways.
    But can/could a fire truck get down the street without the cars in the way?

    That is important to determine whether your article is a red herring or not.
    Last edited by mendelman; 22 Aug 2007 at 12:50 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  19. #19
    Wonder what American fire chiefs would say about this:



    Originally posted in cities and places: gtc UK and RofI thread.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I had this issue come up right after posting my earlier reply. By coincidence, I also came across the Dane County, Wisconsin Model TND Ordinance (not the one prepared by the UW Extension, but Dane County under the BUILD Program). It has some very good street standards with the justification for choosing them, and answers Iwith pictures, too) questions about fire protection on the site.
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  21. #21
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I had this issue come up right after posting my earlier reply. By coincidence, I also came across the Dane County, Wisconsin Model TND Ordinance (not the one prepared by the UW Extension, but Dane County under the BUILD Program). It has some very good street standards with the justification for choosing them, and answers Iwith pictures, too) questions about fire protection on the site.
    And here is the link - Model Traditional Neighborhood Design ordinance
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  22. #22
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    and pedestrian safety

    Great link mendelman. Thanks.

    Another important point is that narrower streets could save pedestrian lives. There's a study done in Longmont Colorado that showed narrowing streets by 8 feet reduced pedestrian accidents by something like 400%!

    Has anybody else seen other studies along these lines?

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