Efficient streets

Robert Goodwill MP UK Minister for Transport (2013-2016) says in STREETSCAPES:

The way our streets are designed and managed is essential to our everyday lives and their quality affects everyone. Streets are not just a way for people to get about but are places in their own right, the centre of the community. Streets that look good can also be safer.

Peter Dickinson Chair, Urban Design Panel, Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation says

Highways and transportation professionals are increasingly aware of the wider role of roads in the community. By working closely with other disciplines and agencies we can help deliver roads that function efficiently, are safe and are memorable pleasant places to live and work.

“Why don’t they just get rid of all the traffic?” This is a commonly heard expression of exasperation.It is perhaps easy to wish away the nuisance of road traffic, hoping that the railway system or even canals could cope. But despite the importance of rail and water, by far the greatest volume of goods and numbers of people are moved about on roads. Even when we include travel by rail or water, a road is invariably at the beginning and end of the journey. Roads connect virtually everywhere to everywhere else.

Road traffic has increased in proportion to the rise in GDP and is expected to continue to rise,mainly because of the increase in the numbers of journeys by private car. Although there are exceptions, for example in central London where only about 5% of journeys to work are by car, the average for urban areas across the country is 65% and in rural areas more than 70%.

Not only is traffic increasing in volume, it is becoming ever more complex. This is apparent when you look at any busy crossroads: cars, people on foot with and without disabilities, cyclists, taxis, buses and lorries all seem to be mixed together in a chaotic melee. Yet each has its own needs and expectations, and none of them can be wished away. We can’t escape the need for traffic but we can manage it.

How can the needs of modern traffic be accommodated in urban and rural areas without detracting form their attractiveness? How can we unscramble what takes place at a typical road junction? There are certainly ways in which streets can be designed to allow for efficient movement for all road users, while fitting comfortably within attractive places.

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