In a recent post from Better! Cities & Towns, Charles Marohn explains the many problems with STROADS, or street-road hybrids. Streets and roads have different purposes: streets have a smaller scale, feature many uses and should accommodate multiple modes of transportation (particularly walking), while roads are primarily meant to move vehicles quickly from one place to another. Therefore, combining the two can have some serious consequences, including:
- Slow traffic. Speed limits are kept low, and there is a lot of turning traffic, merging traffic and many traffic signals. STROADS fail as a road.
- Low financial productivity, meaning they fail as a street. Everything has a large scale for automobiles. Therefore, not only will businesses attract less foot/bicycle traffic (for reasons also described below), but they also have to provide parking lots, which do not yield many jobs or taxes.
- Poor safety. Even if they have sidewalks and crosswalks, STROADS can be difficult to cross because they have many wide driving lanes. Furthermore, there are many gaps in the streetscape. They are extremely difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to use.
- Finally, STROADS are incredibly expensive to build.
Marohn claims that eliminating STROADS is the next “great task” of the local engineer. He points out that “we don’t even have to talk about money to make this change. STROADs are incredibly dangerous. We can justify a lot of STROAD repair using a health, safety and welfare rationale.” Essentially, we get our return on investment through increased productivity, value and safety – which is what the new street network in White Flint aims to accomplish.