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Old October 2nd, 2011, 12:24 AM   #341
I-275westcoastfl
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Originally Posted by jeremiash View Post
But isnt traffic calming what makes the city centre active? Atleast in theory.
Its supposed to help since the theory is slower traffic is better for pedestrians. For cities that lack an active urban core it just doesn't make sense. If pedestrians are few in number and vehicle traffic is heavier than have crosswalks with signals and keep speeds reasonably low. After that it is the pedestrians job to safely walk around. Cities with an active urban core already have a "natural" form of traffic calming which is traffic and activity slowing vehicles down.
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Old October 2nd, 2011, 01:30 AM   #342
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I would agree with the comments about Barcelona as I lived there for a while. You'd hardly know there was a coastal freeway in many places!

Here in Aus, most roads are designed to get you from A to B as quickly as possible it seems. Just trying to cross the road is an experience in itself...
When, during my trip to Barcelona, I walked many times in the square where there is the big statue of Columbus between the Rambla and the harbour I would never imagine there was a motorway (B10) below ground. I guess that motorway runs some metres below sea level. Could it be the lowest motorway of Europe?
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Old October 2nd, 2011, 02:49 AM   #343
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When, during my trip to Barcelona, I walked many times in the square where there is the big statue of Columbus between the Rambla and the harbour I would never imagine there was a motorway (B10) below ground. I guess that motorway runs some metres below sea level. Could it be the lowest motorway of Europe?
I doubt.

Netherlands has some motorway short tunnels in addition to regular freeways already built below sea level. I guess total length of below sea level freeways in Netherlands is around 170km or so.
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Old October 2nd, 2011, 10:39 AM   #344
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Westerschelde Tunnel in the Netherlands (N62) goes 60 meters below sea level, though is not a real motorway, but it does have 2x2 lanes and grade-separation. Norway has some subsea tunnels that are more than 200 meters below sea level, but none of those are motorways. Then there is also a tunnel in the KAD around Saint Petersburg that goes below the storm surge barrier.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 03:20 AM   #345
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It depends on the function of a city center. In the "new world" city centers have a different function than in Europe for instance. It wouldn't make much sense to traffic calm city centers like Oklahoma City or Denver compared to Rome or Prague.
Historically they were, but this is becoming more and more untrue. Many historical American (Usonian?) urban centers, such as--besides New York--Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and D.C., have become downtowns in very much the European sense of the word, and many other urban centers, such as Denver, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Salt Lake, and even Los Angeles etc., are likewise transitioning. Condos and apartments in the urban core are now some of the most popular new construction...and there is significant real estate data suggesting that the coming-of-age generation here has a strong preference for urban living...

This is not to disparage the extreme office monouse of the classical North American downtown, however.
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From taking road trips to different cities I can say that traffic calming is useless in cities where the city center isn't very active. Like lets say for example the major city centers around my metro, I can easily get up to to 40mph or maybe even faster. In fact its hard to get stuck in traffic in downtown on an average day, you only get stuck on major roads as the grid system goes away and you are forced to use major artery roads.

However driving through Chicago, Miami, New York, Boston, and other cities you are going to be limited because there is traffic, people, and activity. Traffic calming for most of the US does belong in residential areas, otherwise people should use common sense. I see idiot pedestrians sometimes worse than the drivers. Our road design is due to the way our cities are laid out, if you live in a city where people commute to the city center and after 5pm its pretty much dead then there is no real point to calm traffic as the roads are designed to get cars in and out.

However living in a city where the city center is active most or all the hours of the day you typically don't need to calm traffic because there is a set pace because of activity. When I go to New York I always drive through Manhattan at some point and usually never pay attention to the speed limit. Why? Because its either an area late night where I can go 35mph or during the day where its tough to even make it to the 30mph city wide speed limit. I always laugh at people here who hit the curb where they made the roads narrower and curvy to calm traffic.

The problem with America isn't usually bad road design all though there are many cases in my metro but bad drivers which is also an issue here. If you have old people who can barely see, people on the phone, people who don't know the rules of the road because you can get your driver license by taking a test in a parking lot, then you can't expect much.
Bad road design is symptomatic of a larger problem, it's true. So is our permitting people to drive who really should not be licensed to, and our woefully simplistic application process. The larger problem of this is simple: we treat drivers as first-class citizens and non-drivers second-class. What really grates me about our traffic engineers is how uncaring of their creations' surroundings and how arrogant they are.
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You should try driving in other parts of the world!

I drove in California from San Francisco to L.A and inside those two cities, i can say i wish we had your engineers in my country (Chile), despite having brand new highways they are not even close to californian highways when it comes to friendlyness towards drivers. Also the design of american highways makes it much more confortable for drivers during heavy traffic.
We are not talking about highway engineering (as a particular subset of traffic engineering). Our highway engineering is fine. The problem arises because our traffic engineers attempt to apply highway engineering to every road type...which is rather like building every railroad, from yonder freight spur on up, to high-speed rail standards. Quite self-evidently excessively wasteful, no?

When you try to impose a one-size-fits-all solution on an inherently multifaceted and hierarchical system, you're bound to get inefficiencies...This is what the so-called "last mile" problem boils down to. When you hear people discuss that problem, realize it fails to be a problem when you stop trying to--as Charles Marohn would have it--treat streets like roads (and roads like highways).
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 10:54 AM   #346
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What surprises me in the United States is how wide residential streets in suburban areas are. They are wider than 2 motorway lanes in Europe (8 - 9 m is not uncommon). You'd be happy in Europe if there is a wide enough space left to pass parked vehicles on the side of the road. 5 - 6 meters, that's about it. Narrower streets means more land to develop = $$$ / €€€
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 11:04 AM   #347
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What surprises me in the United States is how wide residential streets in suburban areas are. They are wider than 2 motorway lanes in Europe (8 - 9 m is not uncommon). You'd be happy in Europe if there is a wide enough space left to pass parked vehicles on the side of the road. 5 - 6 meters, that's about it. Narrower streets means more land to develop = $$$ / €€€
The same here in Cairns. Lake Street where I work for example only has one carriageway each way, but the 'hard shoulder' is wider than the actual road (and often used for illegal overtaking), plus then there's side-on parking. and this would be considered a back street!

I actually think it's an excessive and wasteful use of land space.

Last edited by CairnsTony; October 3rd, 2011 at 11:11 AM.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 02:27 PM   #348
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There is a historical reason for the "historic" wide streets of many US cities. It is the width that allowed a standards horse-drawn carriage could turn on its own to enter a driveway to the houses' early 'garages'.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 02:42 PM   #349
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I think you missed what they are saying, take for example the suburban street I live on which was built in the 1970's, it could fit 3 lanes of traffic.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 03:27 PM   #350
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There is a historical reason for the "historic" wide streets of many US cities. It is the width that allowed a standards horse-drawn carriage could turn on its own to enter a driveway to the houses' early 'garages'.
Shows that Americans were fascinated by the idea of owning their own personal vehicle long before the internal combustion engine was invented.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 04:21 PM   #351
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Shows that Americans were fascinated by the idea of owning their own personal vehicle long before the internal combustion engine was invented.
It had to do with the Trollys and Streetcars that operated on every street pre-1940. Alot of Streetcar restorations will operate on the older routes due to the wide boulevards...and wide streets.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 04:44 PM   #352
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It had to do with the Trollys and Streetcars that operated on every street pre-1940. Alot of Streetcar restorations will operate on the older routes due to the wide boulevards...and wide streets.
And guess from what and why streetcars and rail cars get their common width?
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 08:20 PM   #353
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And guess from what and why streetcars and rail cars get their common width?
The wheel spacing on Ancient Roman carts and chariots? (I think that's where the standard rail gauge ultimately originated...)
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 10:55 PM   #354
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I think you missed what they are saying, take for example the suburban street I live on which was built in the 1970's, it could fit 3 lanes of traffic.
Yup. Excessive street widths were mandated in postwar subdivision codes all across the country. You didn't blow mucho dinero on roads = no FHA-guaranteed mortgages for you (thus wrecking your marketability). IIRC the minimum street width in these codes was 50 feet, and then 60, and on up to 100 ft. And lo and behold...excess asphalt! Speeding drunkards! The whole nine yards!
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 11:22 PM   #355
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Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
What surprises me in the United States is how wide residential streets in suburban areas are. They are wider than 2 motorway lanes in Europe (8 - 9 m is not uncommon). You'd be happy in Europe if there is a wide enough space left to pass parked vehicles on the side of the road. 5 - 6 meters, that's about it. Narrower streets means more land to develop = $$$ / €€€
I've thought about it too. Just a random example:

Las Vegas: http://g.co/maps/wrxn5 - pavement width: 10,8 metres / 35 ft
Paris metropolitan area: http://g.co/maps/mykur - pavement width: 4,8 metres / 15,5 ft
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Old October 4th, 2011, 12:25 AM   #356
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Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
We are not talking about highway engineering (as a particular subset of traffic engineering). Our highway engineering is fine. The problem arises because our traffic engineers attempt to apply highway engineering to every road type...which is rather like building every railroad, from yonder freight spur on up, to high-speed rail standards. Quite self-evidently excessively wasteful, no?

When you try to impose a one-size-fits-all solution on an inherently multifaceted and hierarchical system, you're bound to get inefficiencies...This is what the so-called "last mile" problem boils down to. When you hear people discuss that problem, realize it fails to be a problem when you stop trying to--as Charles Marohn would have it--treat streets like roads (and roads like highways).
Thank you for the explanation. Makes lots of sense.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 12:28 AM   #357
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Norway has some subsea tunnels that are more than 200 meters below sea level, but none of those are motorways.
No real motorways are sub-sea here:

Operatunnelen 3+3 ekspressway: 45m below sea level 6km long.
Tromsøysundtunnelen 2+2 road: 102m below sea level 3,5km long.
Eiksundtunnelen 2-lane road: 287m below sea level 7,7km long.

Planned:

2017 Solbakktunnelen 2+2 road: 290m below sea level 14,1km long.
2019-2022 Rogfast 2+2 motorway: 380m below sea level 25km long.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 04:36 AM   #358
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Yup. Excessive street widths were mandated in postwar subdivision codes all across the country. You didn't blow mucho dinero on roads = no FHA-guaranteed mortgages for you (thus wrecking your marketability). IIRC the minimum street width in these codes was 50 feet, and then 60, and on up to 100 ft. And lo and behold...excess asphalt! Speeding drunkards! The whole nine yards!
Yes but to be honest it does have some sense behind it. Cars can park on both sides of the street and still have room in the middle for passing through. Many times this doesn't get utilized as much because people park in the garage or driveway but it does get used on my street for example.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 07:11 AM   #359
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Many residential streets in US also appear large because their houses have large setbacks. But I like setbacks: they create healthy open space and increased privacy without resorting to the claustrophobibaction of streets with massive vegetation, walls etc.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 05:23 PM   #360
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A large setback seems like waste of space to me. There's nothing you can really do there.
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