Provide pedestrian friendly street patterns and walkable blocks to create inviting streetscapes.
Street design matters. Creating a neighborhood environment that is not only able to be walked, but is actually inviting and walkable is vital to providing a safe way for people to move from place to place. When designing the street facilities, developers should, “consider how to keep people walking separate from people driving vehicles; keep traffic speeds low; ensure sidewalks and curb ramps are accessible to people with disabilities; and clarify where each road user should be expected to travel” (Dangerous by Design, 2016).
Traffic speeds dramatically affect a pedestrian’s actual and perceived sense of safety, as well as the quality of life in neighborhoods. Likewise, speeding is a common concern for residents. The same 2016 publication above reported that pedestrians struck by a motor vehicle traveling at 40 miles per hour are fatally injured 65 percent of the time. Speeds at 30 mph reduce the risk of death to 18 percent. Only 6 percent of pedestrians struck by vehicles traveling at 20 mph are fatally injured. It is important, therefore, to reduce vehicle speeds in high pedestrian activity areas, such as neighborhoods, commercial areas, schools and parks.
Vehicle speeds are heavily influenced by roadway design, regardless of the posted speed limit. Narrow, curvilinear streets with on-street parking and street trees help to slow traffic and create a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. Residential streets that are overly wide and straight and lack a vertical edge, such as trees or buildings, enable fast-moving traffic. It is also important to consider land uses and their relationship to the streets within the neighborhood. Thoughtful attention should be given to ensuring there is a people-first building orientation, and pedestrian-oriented uses activating the ground level.
Placemaking and walkability are important to the success of Lexington and its neighborhoods. A variety of best-practice reviews show that property values tend to be higher in more walkable neighborhoods that contain a mix of nearby destinations connected by pedestrian-friendly streets. Additionally, research shows that this type of development is particularly desirable for the senior and young professional-aged populations that comprise the majority of Lexington’s future growth.