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Street retrofit optimized for humans
Street retrofit optimized for humans, happiness, health, safety and efficiency.

Retrofit street design optimized for humans not cars

Does anyone describe the philosophy of our roads in one word? Is it efficiency? Is it cost or cars and convenience? It appears to me there is no guiding principle. So why not build stuff optimized for what it means to be a happy, healthy human? Not only is this street retrofit design optimized for health and happiness, but it also 2–4 times as safe and energy-efficient. These ideas have been rattling around in my head for years, and I’ve finally decided to give them life in this quick sketch.

Here are the highlights:
  1. 4x more efficient: Have you ever wondered why the postman and garbageman have to stop at every house, then turn around and go back along the other side? In this design, we have all the street posts, garbage and recycle pick-up on one side of the road. Neighbors can also share a spot between properties. This makes everything 4x easier and faster. This is one of my favorite features.
  2. Safer easier roads: As a driver or pedestrian, this design with one-way traffic flow and one-sided parking eliminates about half the hazards. Drivers and pedestrians only have to look one way before crossing the road. And they no longer have to worry about colliding with oncoming traffic, while avoiding bicyclists, car doors, or illegally parked vehicles.
  3. Bike and pedestrian lanes: This features a protected bike lane separated by traffic calming devices and a dedicated sidewalk for pedestrians even further removed from harm’s way. This creates 3 lanes of traffic: one for car, bike and pedestrian, rather than 2 for cars, and 2 for pedestrians.
  4. Buffer zones: On both sides, marked in orange brackets, you can see that the habitable living area is set apart from the road traffic and idling vehicles. This gives both the customers in the cafe on one side and the plants in the garden on the other side some room to breathe fresh air.
  5. Parkway: Or the green area between sidewalk and street can be planted with low-maintenance perennials that don’t require to be mowed. And the trees can be high-quality hardwood that can be harvested for lumber.
  6. Parking: No parallel parking required. And delivery vehicles can pull right into the bicycle lane for quick deliveries. This constitutes a small risk to the bicyclist to swerve into the traffic lane to pass, but I think is a much smaller risk than currently, especially since this lane should be empty almost all the time.
  7. Business and community: What better way to foster community than to walk across the street for coffee, groceries or other local business that provide services to residents, rather than drive 5–15 miles?

Update: Here’s a new video that illustrates how we can redesign our roads for bicycles, and make it safer and carry just as much traffic for cars.

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