The quaint and picturesque suburbs have insulated themselves against the urban environment with miles of highways, strip malls and the traffic between endless sprawl. To get to the artificial nature of surburban streets and parks you must first make an exodus out of the city, arriving in an area that is usually unwalkable: no sidewalks, large streets impossible to cross and large distances between destinations. Kaid Benfield looks at Montgomery County, Maryland’s streetscape initiative to address some of these issues in his article “Fixing Suburbs with Green Streets that Accommodate Everyone”.
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In “The End of Suburbia” we saw the predictions for the unviable nature of the suburban system that we have been established since World War II and the advent of the automobile. According to Benfield, Montgomery County is taking initiatives to install green infrastructure along some of its roadways as a pilot program to test its effectiveness. These environmental features provide shade, absorb heat and rainwater runoff, creating a more inviting environment for residents. The county has taken other measures to treat roadsides for pedestrian accessibility. One of the measures is to provide clear delineation of vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic.
SvR Design Company was hired by the county to design some of these changes and provide feasibility options for the improvements. Many changes, as noted by Benfield, are incremental and will take some time to show profound change. But in the meantime, small steps are an effective way to change the patterns of behavior that emerge in the automobile-based suburban areas. Such initiatives include narrowing streets to ensure that cars move slower and giving more space to pedestrians by widening suburbs. The changes include adding trees along medians, in parking lots and along the street edge. A more thorough look at these plans is available here courtesy of SvR Design Company.
The repairing of the suburb is a healthy approach to making cities more liveable, walkable and viable for the future. Check out SvR Design Company’s other projects for a look at some of the strategies in other cities. And also visit Sprawl Repair Manual by Galina Tachieva for a look at the theories being discussed today.
For more by Kaid Benfield click here.