Take a holistic approach to designing context-sensitive streets, addressing them within the framework of the countywide network context and the needs of all users.
The benefits of context-sensitive multimodal street design are many, but all encompass the responsibilities that designers ensure the health, safety and welfare of the people who will use this public space. These benefits include:
The safety of all users is a priority, whether they use a car, bus, bicycle, wheelchair, stroller, cane, or walk.
Whether used to commute to work or school, to run errands, to visit friends, to go to a park, or to recreate and exercise close to home, streets must be designed with all users in mind. Connected streets provide multiple route options and continuous, convenient facilities without gaps, while reducing delays and congestion—creating a more efficient network.
Improved accessibility and independence. By improving access for all, complete streets enable greater freedom of travel for people who do not drive due to age, disability, expense, or choice.
Connected multimodal streets save individuals money on direct transportation costs by making less costly alternatives to the automobile more readily available, including biking, walking, and transit. Increased physical activity from biking or walking may also save individuals on health-related costs.
Governments and communities save money with the implementation of complete streets. With more travel options and a more connected network, public vehicles may travel fewer miles and reduce backtracking along discontinuous routes. Allowing more people to walk and bike can reduce health costs paid by the government. Less traffic, less pavement, and more street trees reduce the costs associated with cleaning polluted air and water. Dispersed traffic lessens the need for expensive road widening. Less pavement saves in maintenance costs. Connectivity saves infrastructure costs. Smart growth development practices generally require less initial cost to construct and maintain, as they are more compact and require fewer public services annually.
Connected multimodal streets save developers money, as shorter blocks and narrower streets generally result in less pavement.
Accessibility to businesses on foot or by bike can increase patronage from passersby. Creating a sense of place and livability attracts new business and helps retain existing business. Transportation cost savings for businesses allows for reallocating or increasing profit.
Public Health & Recreation
Connected multimodal streets create an environment that fosters walking and biking, resulting in more daily activity and more healthy lifestyles. This can help combat the rising rates of obesity, asthma, and stress. Less pavement leaves more land available for additional development or greenspace, which provide additional opportunities for physical activity.
Environment & Energy
By dispersing traffic, providing efficient route options, and encouraging alternative modes of transportation, a network of multimodal streets reduces congestion and trip lengths—and therefore noise pollution, energy consumption, and emissions. Multimodal streets generally require less pavement, which reduces stormwater runoff and the heat island effect. They can also improve water quality,, through the use of green stormwater practices within the right-of-way.
More Efficient Public Services
Connected multimodal streets provide direct, continuous routes and multiple route options. This reduces response times for emergency vehicles and improves access and efficiency for transit, school buses, and service vehicles, including solid waste trucks and street sweepers. Appropriately-sized streets can accommodate large service vehicles while promoting safe driving speeds without the use of speed humps that can slow emergency response time.
Livability & Higher Quality of Place
A safe, attractive, and welcoming street is crucial to encouraging residents to walk and bike. Using surrounding land use and context to inform their design, complete streets satisfy user needs and street functions in a context-sensitive manner. Well-designed streets become quality places that provide better travel experiences for motorists, walkers, and bicyclists. Elements including street trees, landscaping, shade, lighting, building scale, building orientation, setbacks, and buffers from traffic contribute to design quality.