May 6, 2004

Safety and a Sense of Place

"We need to start thinking in terms of streets as being mixed use streets," urban designer Elizabeth Macdonald tells Berkeley's Traffic Safety Center newsletter. That is, design from the outset for both pedestrians and auto traffic, not just for vehicles.

She makes an extremely interesting point when talking about San Pablo Avenue, a street that runs parallel to an Interstate in the San Francisco area that she describes as "an arterial street, but it's still a street that goes through neighborhoods and people use it for neighborhood activities":

"My bias is to say that those local needs and activities take precedence over through travel, or should at least be balanced with through travel needs on any street."

This is very much an issue planners talking about downtown revitalization in Framingham need to keep foremost in mind. The desire to get traffic moving through downtown must be balanced with the needs of the neighborhood. Turning Rtes. 126 and/or 135 into pedestrian-hostile traffic sewers may help commuters driving through town, but they'll kill off a town business district.

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