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Green Streets

 

What is a green street?

A green street is a corridor of movement primarily for people on foot, bike, wheelchair, and other low-impact modes of transportation.

"The Seattle Municipal Code defines a “Green Street” as “...a street right-of-way which is part of the street circulation pattern, that through a variety of treatments, such as sidewalk widening, landscaping, traffic calming, and pedestrian-oriented features, is enhanced for pedestrian circulation and open space use.” In essence, narrow the roadway by moving the curb out and fill the captured space with sidewalks and greenery. "  from:   http://www.djc.com/news/co/11149502.html


(important note:  as of 2009, increasingly the term 'green streets' refers not to non-motorized transportation, but to streets that allow a natural filtration of storm water.  The term 'bicycle boulevard' seems to be a more popular moniker for streets that give more priority to non-motorized transportation, especially bicycle priority)


What are the options?

We have divided green streets into 4 categories: share streets, bicycle boulevards, half streets, and pedestrian streets.
  
Share Street:  car is a guest, follows Dutch model, also called a 'woonerf'

Bicycle Boulevard:   mid-block 'live-ends' give bicycle priority

Half Street:    a median down the middle divides uses.  ...could think of this almost as a paved trail running along side a roadway, but not quite.

Pedestrian Street:    car-free area (usually) in a downtown area (cyclists usually encouraged to dismount).  Also known as pedestrian plaza, walking street, piazza, pedestrian mall.


How do green streets fit into an overall transportation system?
Green streets connect people to each other. They allow a safer journey for non-motorized transportation users. These types of streets should strive to connect schools, parks, work places, and other high-use destinations.

Feasibility
The feasibility of this network relies on willingness of residents to change some of their driving and parking patterns. In Missoula, our grid and alley network allows most residents to have several options for parking.

Some of these transportation tools are very appealing because they require little change in infrastructure. Signage, landscaping, and an awareness campaign may be all that's needed in many instances.

What is the process to make it happen?
Missoula's policy is that a neighborhood street can be redesigned if at least 60% of an affected area agrees to the proposal. This policy has mainly been applied to the process of installing traffic circles in neighborhoods- dozens of such circles are now in several neighborhood districts.

We suggest trying to get consenus on any of these types of changes instead of simply trying to get 60% approval. This may take longer but will be worth the extra effort in the long run. Once residents understand that this is simply shifting driving and parking patterns- for the benefit of walking, cycling, kid's play space, recreation, etc.- the process will be successful.

A coordinated system
If several neighborhoods are interested in gaining designation for a greenstreet, it makes sense to have these streets connect. Imagine moving through your city on a network of safe walking and cycling facilities- for play, work, or whatever your heart desires. MIST is available to help neighborhoods set up a green street.

Other Important Factors to Consider:

-Maintenance:
Neighbors and government need to work together to determine how a green street will be maintained (snow removal, landscaping, weeding, watering, signage policy, etc.).

-Emergency responders:
This is a critical element of the process. Options include rerouting of services or creating the green street in a way that still allows emergency vehicles to have access.

-Trash collection, mail delivery, goods and services delivery:
Bring a plan to the appropriate decision makers and work out acceptable changes. Creating a compensation fund for service providers that are adversely affected by a green street system is also a possibility.



Links:

www.carfree.com
a great resource for car-free living, city design, and so on