Saturday, 23 June 2012

Outside-in design

Road design. Should we not start designing outside in? The current design takes the view from the centre line. Road space is divvied up using this formula favouring moving the Mothered Motorist.
  1. car lane width - make as wide as possible to allow speedy traffic
  2. how many car lanes are required to squeeze through  the desired traffic volume
  3. look at remaining space - give preferably to walking 
  4. then to cycling (if anything is left at this stage)
Should we not design for people and lean towards clean-green motion? Road space has to be squeezed to halt ever-creeping motorisation and to tackle car dependence.

So. Scrap the view-from-the-centre-line design approach. I propose we do it the other way round. Let's go outside-in.
  1. how much space is needed to walk safely here?
  2. how much space is needed to cycle safely here?
  3. what's left - design lane width and lane numbers and adjust speeds accordingly 
It would lead to demand management prioritising and promoting active travel rather than stinking polluting motorised movements. It's glaringly obvious to me that by-the-book traffic professionals cannot do it by themselves. They must seek assistance from others. Immediately and without delay.

Urban designers are required to transform our streets and roads. They have the vision. A lot has to do with perception change too. Local campaigns for better street environments and neighbourhoods have their role to play also, as have national road safety campaigns.

Designing outside-in means taking away from the car, and only giving to the driver what's left. Bare bone minimum. I think that's a fair approach. Yes, it will cause congestion. In the short term. It's not anything to be afraid of. The road space operates on a self-regulatory basis.

Build it and they'll come.

And yes, along fast busy heavily trafficked distributor roads I want cycle paths. I'd like to glide along  (on one of the bikes below, choose a colour) in safety, gracefully, in peaceful harmony with my environment. If we got that sort of thing in Newcastle I do promise not to pull faces at the drivers! It'd pity them.


1 comment:

  1. Very true. ...and of course the hidden variable is that the size (and number) of cars increases (particularly width, and influenced by passing fashions for off-road styled cars), so in effect motorists themselves continually reduce the 'value' of the road resource they have (and 'need' more). Ideally we would design for what we wanted in the future (i.e. a sustainable prosperous and healthy future). However we seem to be trapped between where the voters are perceived to be by politicians, the money made from cars (through parking and fines), and the general right wing aversion to anything 'planned'.