Streets of clay : design and assessment of sustainable urban and suburban streets
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Since automobile use became widespread in North America, Europe, and Australia during the first two decades of the 20th century, cities and their streets have been reshaped to adapt to the motor vehicle surge. Efforts are now underway to re-define the purpose of arterial streets and to re-design these important thoroughfares accordingly. This movement has taken a variety of names, including “Livable Streets”, “Context Sensitive Streets” and “Complete Streets”. Such streets are multimodal transport links as well as places for socio-economic life and active living.This thesis presents findings from research on assessing just how “active” and “sustainable” are a set of arterial streets in five San Francisco Bay Area cities. Six streets, two re-designed as more “livable” or more “context sensitive” streets, and four more conventional arterial streets, are compared across a set of objective performance metrics and subjective assessments from street users and businesses. The analysis was grounded in a mixed methods approach. Streets were evaluated on an array of quantitative measures, as well as the results of six street user focus groups and surveys of 716 street users and local businesses.An important outcome of the research is a framework or model for influences on and supports for street activity and sustainability. Thesis findings affirm the importance to communities of multi-purpose street environments. Thesis results show that arterial streets can be redesigned to engender activity and promote sustainability. This research confirmed the importance of providing space on arterial streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. This thesis represents a significant extension of the knowledge in the field of what constitutes a more sustainable arterial street environment. The assessment framework integrates a far wider range of research disciplines and concerns than previously evidenced in the literature. As such it may provide policymakers with a better understanding and basis on which to pursue further arterial street re-designs in similar contexts to those of the six streets I studied in this research.
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