Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trees In Transit

bz Leda Marritz and Nathalie Shanstrom

Changes in transit design that aim to make roads and car traffic safer are one critical component of the complete streets movements underway across North America. Vehicle usage is responsible for staggering CO2 emissions, human injury and death, energy consumption, and more. Still, cars remain a part of the urban landscape, and street design that integrates them safely is imperative. Speed bumps, street markings, speed limits and other measures have all been used to create safer conditions for all users of the road. But what about trees?
Most of us like trees. These incredible organisms clean our air and water, provide valuable habitat for wildlife, increase our property values, and make us feel happier through their beauty. They also seem to make urban roads safer. Most of us don’t think of trees as infrastructure, but in an urban context they are just that. Research indicates that they can play a powerful role in traffic calming, especially through their impact on three vehicle-related risks: speeding, road rage, and pedestrian/bicyclist injury.

The Edge Effect

According to a 1999 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speed was a factor in 30% of all traffic fatalities. That’s a scary statistic. Rumble strips, speed bumps, and speed limits are a few of the common measures taken to reduce traffic speeds to safer levels. It turns out that trees placed along streets can also play an important role in speed control.

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photo by Polifemus

similar posts:

Spatial Planning, Urban Form and Sustainable Transport: An Introduction

Visioning Vs. Modeling: Analyzing the Land Use-Transportation Futures of Urban Regions


Cleanliness from a car

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