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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

What's wrong with this picture? Horribly unsafe street design, for starters

Kaid Benfield

Posted March 23, 2012

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  Smithtown, NY (by: The Walkable and Livable Cities Institute)

This photo comes from The Walkable and Livable Cities Institute, led by the indefatigable Dan Burden.  The Institute posted it on Facebook yesterday, with this caption:

“Most of us will outlive our ability to drive. If we want to be able to stay in our neighborhoods, in our homes, beyond our driving years, we need streets that support us in walking. This neighborhood street in Smithtown, NY, could really use at least a sidewalk.”

I just can’t add to that.  The photo tells the story.

Here’s another:

  Central Florida (by: The Walkable and Livable Cities Institute) 

“This family in central Florida needs to cross a street, but there isn't a crossing within a quarter-mile. So they take their chances with the six lanes and cars passing at 45 to 55 mph.”


The Walkable and Livable Cities Institute is a great resource for all who are interested in people-focused development.  I especially like the way they teach visually, as in this aspirational re-imagination of a road in Orange Beach, Alabama:

  Orange Beach, AL (by: The Walkable and Livable Cities Institute)

  Orange Beach, AL reimagined (by: The Walkable and Livable Cities Institute) 

Here is an excerpt from the group’s mission statement:

  • We inspire by helping communities envision a better future, by sharing examples and success stories and by displaying a personal commitment to the movement.
  • We teach the benefits of walkability and livability, best practices in designing for active transportation and strategies for successful civic engagement and implementation.
  • We connect community members and leaders to important resources, engage them in the process, and help them communicate with each other.
  • We support with ongoing guidance, educational materials and by celebrating successes widely.

Go here for more information about the Institute.

Related posts:

Move your cursor over the images for credit information.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.  Please also visit NRDC’s sustainable communities video channel.

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Scott DoyonMar 23 2012 09:32 AM

Among the obvious deficiencies in that very first picture, perhaps the most tragically comical is the ADA-compliant curb scoop dutifully delivering wheelchair users into the grass.

Thanks for the post, Kaid. It will be an eye-opener, I'm afraid, for too many folks.

Greg CantoriMar 27 2012 09:45 AM

If we strictly promoted and enforced a hierarchy of venerability then everyone could and should walk in the streets safely as cars would have to slow or stop to go around or wait for those more vulnerable users including bicycle riders....dream on...

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