So this isn’t an entirely new conversation around here. We’ve previously discussed stop sign alternatives, crosswalk varietals til we’ve been blue in the face, and debated criminalizing certain ways of getting around.
But recently, a New York Times op-ed mentioned a “radical” shared streets plan in Chicago in a larger plea toward urging peds, bikes, cars and trucks in the city to just get along. This led Co.Exist to point out that shared streets aren’t radical at all, and have existed for years in other countries and are already beginning to pop up around the U.S. (See Seattle’s Bell Street below)
Now that shared streets are getting another 15 minutes of fame, perhaps we can take a moment to consider them for ourselves. “But what exactly does a shared street look like?”, you ask.
Well, it has no lanes, curbs and minimal signage. It often employes different colored pavers to indicate where “the street” normally ends and a “sidewalk” begins. The design works because it puts all travelers on equal footing (har), and forces them to negotiate themselves through eye contact instead of taking instruction (or inherent right!) from signage.
Would such a street of harmonic traveling be welcome in Decatur? If so, where would you argue it’s most needed?
Photo: Nate Cormier, SvR Design Company
Think of it as an early version of Facebook (aka “Facemash”) but with U.S. streets instead of Harvard co-eds. But the great thing about it is that streets don’t have feelings, so feel free to judge the hell out them!
Actually the really great thing is that this project, entitled “Beautiful Streets“, which asks you to pick which street is “more beautiful” is ultimately looking at compiling data to identify the seemingly “tricky” aspects of a street that make it well loved. By passing judgements on these hundreds of Google Streetviews you can help them achieve their goal of attempting to define what makes a street “beautiful”.
Maybe we should set up one of these for Decatur and see which street takes home the “sexiest street” prize.