Ten Reasons Why Your Community is Ready for a Revitalized Streetscape
Whether you’re walking your dog around the block or rushing down a busy city street, you’re enjoying the benefits of streetscaping. This term refers to the visual elements of roadways, adjoining buildings and sidewalks that work together to form a street’s overall identity and character. At their core, streetscape projects aim to optimize various design aspects to create a better experience for those who interact with it: drivers, walkers, runners and cyclists. All of these various activities can occur simultaneously via a streetscape methodology of planning entitled: “Complete Street” design.
As defined by Smart Growth America, complete streets are “designed and operated to prioritize safety, comfort and provide access to destinations for all people who use the street.”
At first glance, it’s easy to overlook the underlying design of the street you traverse each day, however, there is much more than meets the eye. Streets play a fundamental role in fostering a sense of community and togetherness. Recently, Keck+Wood’s streetscape design team collaborated to form their top ten reasons why your community is probably ready for a cohesive approach to streetscape design:
10. Public Involvement
Developing a streetscape along a high-profile road can give residents pride and a sense of place within the larger community. Inviting residents to contribute to the planning process will provide opportunities for involvement, ownership and inclusion.
Recently the City of Doraville, GA and Keck + Wood broke ground on a streetscape project which Mayor Joseph Geierman stated in an article published by The Champion News. “… New Peachtree Road’s upcoming facelift is an important starting point for city council’s plans to rebuild downtown Doraville into a walkable, vibrant mixed-use amenity for both residents and visitors.” Although this project was conceptually designed more than a decade ago, the impact the work will have on the City of Doraville and its’ residents is timeless.
9. Cleaner Air
Another benefit of a complete street is the potential for reduced emissions. The ease of utilizing alternative modes of transportation available to residents can reduce motor vehicle traffic, which minimizes congestion on the roads, and reduces harmful carbon emissions, promoting a cleaner and healthier environment for everyone. Landscape Plantings can assist with cleaning the air by cutting down on pollution as well.
8. Reduced Maintenance Costs
According to a professional practice article issued by the American Society of Landscape Architects (www.asla.org), roughly 30-35% of total land use is consumed by roads and streets. Cities and communities who can transform portions of these hardscape wastelands and elevate the overall look and functionality of the street for multi-modal use can improve the quality of life for its residents, as well as reduce the costs of maintenance and upkeep of expensive impervious surfaces and potentially decaying infrastructure.
7. Reduction in Stormwater
Incorporating a streetscape which requires less impervious surfaces will reduce stormwater runoff, meaning less pollutants in streams and rivers, which can help protect local wildlife. In an article published by the American Society of Landscape Architects published in 2013 titled “Shaping the City with Horticulture: The Street” several large cities have been reducing stormwater by creating more impervious areas in concentrated urban areas.
6. Improve Traffic Issues
A Complete Street approach can provide opportunities to improve traffic issues. For example, by instituting a “Road Diet” on a multi-lane road it can reallocate a traffic lane into much needed community street parking; a design change which actually may improve traffic flow. The design effort also provides opportunities to improve traffic signalization, pedestrian crosswalks, and road striping.
5. Become a “Walkable City”
Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, jobs, and schools, bicycle to work, and to move actively with assistive devices. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk or move actively to and from train stations.
4. More Greenspace!
An important aspect is the incorporation of urban green spaces and recreational areas. Studies have shown that spending time in parks and green spaces can help reduce stress, improve mood, promote creativity and encourage mindfulness.
3. Community Beautification
While many of the advantages of streetscape projects concern the safety and well-being of individuals, there are also aesthetic benefits. Streetscaping plays a key role in enhancing the overall appearance of the streets in a town or city. The more mileage of roadways that are re-envisioned, the more attractive the environment becomes. An improved appearance contributes to better collective health and well-being within a community.
2. Local Businesses Prosper
Local merchants and businesses often prosper after streetscape projects. When the surrounding area of a building is beautified, it instantly elevates the property value of the business. Open sidewalks, shade trees, on-street parking, and ease of pedestrian crossings on a street that connect points of interest will entice visitors. Restaurants with outdoor seating, sidewalk sales and open merchant doors are strong indicators of community growth and prosperity.
1. Keep Residents & Visitors Safe
Complete Street design takes into account the safety of pedestrian, cyclists and motorists alike. Enhanced intersections, crosswalks, and mid-block crossings assist pedestrians to traverse streets. Landscape buffers are strategically placed between sidewalks and bus or traffic lanes to provide barriers for safety. Likewise, bike lanes help keep accidents at bay and provide cyclists with ample room to travel without risking a collision with a vehicle.
These ten and many other elements of Complete Street design can transform a community’s streetscape into a safe, welcoming and comfortable environment that everyone can feel at home in.
Why an all-inclusive Design Team is Preferred for Streetscapes
When collaborating on a streetscape project, there are many different elements to contend with, such as roadways, traffic, landscape, utilities, etc. Keck + Wood’s integrated, all in-house team of civil engineers, landscape architects, utilities engineers, stormwater, water, traffic and roadway engineers have the expertise needed, and the communication clarity to seamlessly share information across all disciplines under one roof. Our unique all-inclusive approach provides confidence & stability for our clients.
To learn more about streetscape design or how our experts can help you bring your project to life, contact Keck & Wood today.