Figure 1 shows an example of how to use the results of MMLOS. In it, based on the results of MMLOS, the existing cross section was changed by removing the parking facility and providing a bike lane. Using the MMLOS, it is possible to now compare the existing multimodal LOS with the proposed MMLOS. Based on the proposed cross section, result specific changes can be made to the streets to see what improvements make the level of service better for all modes. For example, it is possible to add bus stops with shelters and benches; the change in MMLOS will show the impact of the changes made for the transit users in the segment. Other changes can be to enlarge the sidewalks for pedestrian movements. By using MMLOS, it is possible to verify the existing and proposed LOS for all modes and users, thus providing some kind of ‘equity’ in the system.
The complete street concept is to design and develop streets to provide access to all road users, namely pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and bicyclists, motorists and users of public transportation.The roads are redesigned to accommodate all modes of travel. The concept of complete street is to make it safe and easy to cross the street, use bike routes, walk to shops and schools and at the same time, try to maintain good mobility for cars and make the transit operate at high efficiency.
In order to achieve the above objectives of complete street, it becomes necessary to change the existing policies by the State, Federal and Local agencies. By changing the policies, the urban planners, transportation planners and engineers get the required permit to change the existing right-of-way (ROW) to re-design the roadway for all users. The National Complete Street Coalition has identified the elements of an ideal “Complete Street” to help understand the concept.
For example, a complete street design may include all or some of the elements such as sidewalks, bike lanes (or wide paved shoulders), special bus lanes, comfortable and accessible public transportation stops, frequent and safe crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, curb extensions, narrower travel lanes, roundabouts, and more. It depends on the ROW available on-site. Figure 2 shows the variety of options in creating roads that are safe for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation.
The main principle of smart growth is to achieve a sense of community and place; it allows the use of alternative transportation to reach housing and employment. It recognises the need for distributing the costs and benefits of development over a period of time and at the same time, promotes public health by the use of alternative modes of transportation such as biking, walking and transit.
If the local population demand is for ‘low density’ residential houses, the entire ‘smart growth’ concept fails to achieve its objectives. For ‘smart growth’ to be successful, the willingness of local government to pass policies and tax incentives that are enforced to develop underutilised sites into usable commodities is essential. The ultimate benefit in adopting the ‘smart growth’ principles is that they will lead to a sense of community, healthy families (due to better physical activity and use of alternative transportation modes), sustainable neighbourhoods, stimulated local economy and use of underutilised land areas.
The actual definition of a livable street is hard to define or find, but a street is livable when it is possible to create a balance between both vehicles and the community that lives in the area in such a way that they are able to use the roadway, work nearby, access by walking and have recreational areas nearby to play.
The adoption of livable streets similar to complete streets needs strong legislation that helps the urban planners, transportation planners and engineers to re-design the streets for all users. The following figures provide an insight into the way streets could be redesigned to provide better access to pedestrians and bicycles. Also, the changes affect the speed of travel on the roads, provide better site distance and make the streets safer.
Proper lighting is another important element that is required to make the roadway and community area safe. Good lighting encourages people to use nearby businesses and parks with their families. Also, lighting prevents pedestrian and bicycle accidents at intersections.
In trying to create a livable or complete street, it is necessary to accommodate other modes of travel. For this purpose, several design techniques as shown in Figures 3 to 6 can be used. In Figure 3, there is a lack of sight line and the width of intersection to be crossed is very large making it difficult for the pedestrians to cross the street. Figure 4 shows how this situation could be corrected; the improvement provides better sight line and reduced width for pedestrians. In Figure 5, the parking facility on either side of the street is provided with a curb extension, which narrows the street and reduces the speed of cars to make it safe for the bicyclists and pedestrians.
In Figure 6, an island is provided for the pedestrian to take refuge in crossing the street as the width of the street is very wide as seen in the figure. Also, the island is used as a free right turn lane allowing mobility and better line of sight for motorists. In Figure 6, two options are provided for improving sight distance obstructed due to parked cars.
As India is a developing country with emerging transportation problems, it is necessary for Indian Urban/Transportation Planners and Traffic Engineers not to make the same mistakes that the West/developed countries have made in the past. Therefore, it is necessary for its planners to learn and understand the basic new concepts and then adopt the new techniques and make the roads accessible & equitable among all road users.
Figures 3-6 are from the currently developed manual “Model Design Manual for Living Streets,” (www.modeldesignmanulforlivingstreets.com) for the Los Angeles County Renew Programme by Ryan Snyder and Associates, Los Angeles.Dr. Narasimha Murthy (The author, a registered traffic engineer in the State of California, has over 20 years of project experience in the areas of transportation planning, transit planning, traffic engineering, traffic simulation, travel demand forecasting, ITS and goods movement. His project management experience includes projects for Federal, State and Local entities in the public sector and various private sector projects.)