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The Opposite of Transportation Livability is Killability

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Livability is a concept that has enjoyed tremendous popularity in recent years. The Federal Highway Administration established a formal “Livability Initiative” and in 2010, published a guidebook to educate transportation planning and design professionals.

But even with the enormous amount of data showing direct and tangible connections between street design and public health and safety (i.e. livability), bad design continues to show itself on a regular basis on our street networks.

If good design promotes livability, then bad design must promote the opposite of livability…killability.

City streets are intended for people of all ages and physical abilities. Let's design livable streets. Let's *reclaim* our streets!

This presentation was originally given in a Pecha Kucha (20x20) format during the 2013 American Planning Association national conference.

Published in: Design
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The Opposite of Transportation Livability is Killability

  1. 1. the opposite of
  2. 2. Planners, don’t we love our buzzwords? Livability is one of the most popular terms across the fields of planning, design, and engineering.
  3. 3. Planners, don’t we love our buzzwords? Livability is one of the most popular terms across the fields of planning, design, and engineering. Livability is a fancy way of describing places where people can live long and prosper.
  4. 4. Planners, don’t we love our buzzwords? Livability is one of the most popular terms across the fields of planning, design, and engineering. Livability is a fancy way of describing places where people can live long and prosper. What happens when we don’t consider livability when planning and designing transportation infrastructure?
  5. 5. Another life lost on an American street.
  6. 6. ―what a senseless death, caused by boneheaded street design subsidized by this poor person’s family!‖
  7. 7. This presentation isn’t intended to dwell on the boneheads. Well, not too much. Professionals want the senseless killing to end.
  8. 8. Planners and engineers feel just as unsafe at the side of a road as you do. I think they want to make things right.
  9. 9. We’ve been conditioned to think that some pedestrians are ok while others are undesirable.
  10. 10. A person standing outside converting a local street into a highway is valued. His daughter crossing the street to get to school is a nuisance.
  11. 11. Minneapolis, 1920
  12. 12. This wasn’t always true in America. People used to be free in our public streets. Streetcars were in the middle – you EXPECTED people to wander around the middle of a city street. Modernist traffic models would buckle under the projected rush hour operations!
  13. 13. And look where we are today. ―Mission accomplished!‖ –Traffic Engineer Level of service A. Average vehicular delay…negligible.
  14. 14. And look where we are today. ―Mission accomplished!‖ –Traffic Engineer Level of service A. Average vehicular delay…negligible. Average number of people willing to walk across 8 to 10 lanes of taxpayer funded streets like this…negligible.
  15. 15. But wait! Transportation planners connect land use and transportation! They understand context! Here’s the problem. Humans —even professional planners and engineers— have a way of outsmarting common sense. (You might say especially professionals.) If a department of transportation doesn’t think pedestrians or bicyclists belong, they figure a highway design will keep people away.
  16. 16. (said every DOT everywhere)
  17. 17. The next image is an example of typical American infrastructure labeled livable transportation. What makes it livable? Usually crosswalks and wheelchairaccessible ramps are enough for professionals to congratulate themselves.
  18. 18. Transportation planners are praised for providing multimodal accommodations. Meanwhile, we somehow ignore the fact that our community streets have turned into high-speed racetracks.
  19. 19. The experts have followed industry-approved design manuals and outsmarted common sense.
  20. 20. Killable Livable 20 40
  21. 21. When a car moving at 20 mph hits a person walking, that person has a 95% chance of survival. When a car moving at 40 mph hits a person walking, that person has an 85% chance of death.
  22. 22. When a car moving at 20 mph hits a person walking, that person has a 95% chance of survival. When a car moving at 40 mph hits a person walking, that person has an 85% chance of death. Now consider how many streets you drive daily are posted at 45 mph in densely populated cities and suburbs.
  23. 23. Have you ever noticed that public works employees or street designers insist on wearing helmets and reflective vests when they make a field visit?
  24. 24. Pop-up retail, downtown stores, street vendors… these people live and die by foot traffic. They need a livable transportation network in order to thrive. Cities are about exchange— exchange among people, not the motor vehicles they sometimes drive.
  25. 25. Redemption
  26. 26. Redemption Here’s one example of how we can end the status quo street design. Roundabouts almost completely eliminate fatalities compared to stop lights. And they reduce total crashes by 70-80%.
  27. 27. One day this modernist auto-scale street design will be a short blip in history.
  28. 28. 500+ 28 0 agencies & local governments support complete streets states including Washington, DC support complete streets agencies & local governments think they support killable streets
  29. 29. Those commitments mean something. The next images show what can happen when mindsets about city streets change. Street improvements can be as simple as putting out some folding chairs, a bench, and a cooler.
  30. 30. If departments of transportation, public works departments, and other professionals expect people to be in and around streets, then they’ll be more inclined and pressured to design streets for people.
  31. 31. Messaging is so important. Look at that Sheetz sign. Marketers know how to tell a mouth-watering story.
  32. 32. Livable transportation infrastructure needs more than just informational signs about calories burned.
  33. 33. Livable transportation infrastructure needs more than just informational signs about calories burned. We need mouth-watering propaganda campaigns with an irresistible message.
  34. 34. So what are you going to about it? How will you reclaim your streets? Get working on a propaganda campaign. Focus on a simple idea that resonates with real people.
  35. 35. Let the traffic engineers have their vehicular operation metrics. Your common sense knows better than computer models and rulebooks!
  36. 36. active Reclaim your streets.
  37. 37. This young kid is not going to remember vehicular queues at nearby intersections. He’s not going to remember that he was walking and playing near a major arterial. He’s going to remember using up an entire bucket of sidewalk chalk with his brother and his dad. The boy had fun on a livable street.
  38. 38. Here’s a picture of the past. And I’m hoping in some ways it’s a picture of the future. Just with a bit more high-tech gadgetry… …like maybe drivers having to push a button in order to cross streets filled with human beings. You can make your streets livable again!
  39. 39. APA’s 2013 National Planning Conference

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