It's a pretty ordinary street in San Francisco. The buildings are primarily three-story Victorians divided into flats. Measured from building to building, the public right-of-way is 68′ 9″ -- a common width for residential streets in the city.
I want to highlight the total space we're setting aside for cars in the current setup. When we multiply the width of the lanes (38′ 9″) by the length of the block (425′), the result is more than 15,000 square feet of space for cars, just on a single block of McAllister Street.
We can now reuse the old center roadway -- nearly 40′ across -- in a more productive way. Assuming we build to three stories, we now have 45,000 square feet of buildable space where people can live, work, shop, and relax -- just on the 1400 block of McAllister.
The old segregated sidewalks (each 15′) are wide enough to become our new shared streets, built at a comfortable scale for people. Drivers respond to narrow streets by avoiding them when they can, and by moving very slowly -- no more than about 5 mph -- when they need to use them for local access. In a future post we'll look at how to supplement narrow streets with a network of arterials and boulevards where cars and transit can move more quickly. [...]
What type of places make a city great? To answer that it's helpful to think about the difference between "Places" and "Non-Places". Nathan Lewis defines them: Places are areas where things happen. [...] Non-Places are areas of the city where nothing happens. This includes:
When we look at traditional cities outside of North America we can see a consistent pattern -- lots of "Place" and very little "Non-Place".
- Parking lots
- Useless greenery (not a park, but landscaping where nobody goes)
- Roadways and other transportation infrastructure
- Areas around buildings which are not "destinations," and often have no real purpose
Narrowing a Residential Street: McAllister: