IT’S AN INTERESTING QUESTION TO EXPLORE BUT IT IS PROBABLY ONE REASON WHY IT’S SO DIFFICULT TO MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN, BUT SOME “RADICAL” STREET ELEMENTS HAVE BEEN WITH US FOR DECADES.
…On the subject of development, I’ll just mention road adoption (roads taken over by the local authority to maintain and manage, but built by developers). Local authority development engineers are simply folk. They want new roads which will last many decades with minimal maintenance. They want new roads which don’t facilitate speeding or people parking everywhere as it generates complaints from new residents – that negative feedback again.
They like to cling to their standard details and from a construction point of view it isn’t so bad – vehicle areas being tarmac with the money spent where people are walking is a fair starting point. But layout should be up for grabs as we only need a refuse (and fire) truck to get through as well as letting people access any parking they may have and this means challenging the safe and easy status-quo otherwise we risk more bland 1980s style identikit estates.
How about the controversial “floating bus stops” used with cycle tracks? These are all new fangled and pushing at the envelope, right? Look around suburbia, there are countless examples of floating bus stops, it’s just they are not by cycle tracks, they are by service roadsand as far as I am aware, there isn’t even a whiff of controversy – perhaps this is because they haver been around for decades and people don’t give them a second look Why haven’t we built more cycle tracks and floating bus stops? It’s probably because we have been sticking to the comfort of painting lanes on the road which give up at bus stops because we are scared about the negative feedback from building tracks. Let’s be honest here, most roads with cycle lanes carry so much traffic that we should be building tracks.
People often have lomg-held views on how our roads should be laid out and operate (whether a user or a designer). On the whole, people have accepted business as usual and unless a yellow line or a hump is proposed outside their house, many people have never expressed a view, regardless of their usual mode of transport. Designers, highway authorities and elected people have gone along with it because it is easy and comfortable.
I say let’s shake the tree, bring on the negative feedback and then proceed to dismantle it. Change won’t happen every time, but we can chip away at long held views and very so often we’ll get something different and better built which we can point at and start to feed a positive feedback loop.