The future of street design has arrived in Pittsburgh.
At Hazelwood Green — the massive mixed-use former brownfield development underway along the Monongahela River — Pittsburgh will get to see what Complete Streets look like. The idea is to design and operate a street for everyone — with safe access for all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists and transit users alike.
The newly-opened Lytle, Beehive and Eliza streets include protected sidewalk-level bicycle lanes, a shifting center line with alternating on-street parking, raised intersections, floating bus islands and a general focus on green infrastructure and landscaping.
“I think the biggest thing is the notion of ‘people first,’ says Rebecca Flora, ReMake Group President and outgoing director for the Almono project. “Everything’s being thought of in terms of, ‘How do we make this a place people want to be?’ instead of just a place that cars zoom through.”
Design elements, like narrow travel lanes and raised, textured crosswalks, prevent and discourage drivers from speeding and instead enable a target speed of about 20 miles per hour.
“The big deal in this one is the ‘chicanes,’” explains Flora. “It’s a design approach used internationally; basically, the parking alternates on either side of the street, creating a bit of a zig-zag, but it’s also a traffic calming measure. Instead of speed bumps, they (cars) have to move back and forth across the road, so they slow down, which increases pedestrian safety.”
These tools for traffic calming and street design have proven their effectiveness for decades in Denmark and the Netherlands, and are increasingly being adopted by forward-thinking American cities like Austin, Minneapolis, Seattle and Boston.
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