Mesa Verde: This national park, located in Southwest Colorado, features the carefully preserved cave dwellings of the ancient Puebloan people. The park houses 5,000 archaeological sites, and offers guided tours of the cave dwellings. The new visitor and research center houses the museum’s collection of over three million objects.
Denver Firefighters Museum: This Denver museum’s interactive exhibits tell the story of the city’s fire fighting history. The museum is housed in the city’s original Firehouse Number 1, and displays artifacts from the past century of fire fighting.
Can the behavior of motorists be modified through the physical design of roads? An empirical study shows a correlation between improved visibility and/or increased carriageway width with increasing vehicle speeds (Department for Transport, 2007). On a road 5 meters wide with forward visibility of 10 meters, cars travel at an average speed of 11 mph. Each meter increase in road width provides for visibility improvement of 2-4 meters, resulting in an increase in average speed of 1-5 mph. Disrupting clear sightlines on roads through horizontal displacements, such as chicanes, or vertical displacements, such as speed humps, can dramatically slow cars down. After chicanes were installed at NE 98th Street in Seattle, Washington (Figure 2.3), car speeds reduced by 18-35 percent (Marek & Walgren, 1998). The relationship between visibility, road width, and driver speed also applies at road junctions.
Various traffic-calming measures have been successful in reducing vehicle speeds. These measures include installing traffic management devices and signage, modifying road spaces, reconfiguring the number of lanes devoted to cars, providing street parking, widening sidewalks, planting trees, and installing street furniture. Over the long term, crashes and injuries are reduced by 15-40 percent. A recent before-and-after study showed reduction in collision frequency by 40 percent, and fatalities from one to zero (Anderson et al., 1997; Litman, 1999). Traffic calming, if done throughout the entire residential neighborhood, limits and re-routes traffic out of the neighborhood, resulting in increased safety.
Progressive traffic engineers and designers embrace a radically different approach called ‘shared space’. A shared environment for cars, pedestrians, and other transport modes is created by removing the traditional separation between vehicles and other road users. All traffic control devices, street signs, and road markings are removed. The philosophy behind shared space is one of risk compensation, based on the assumption that individual motorists are likely to adjust their driving behavior in response to different levels of perceived risk. By allowing various road users to mingle in the road space, drivers are impelled to drive safely to avoid collision and conflicts (Engwicht, 2005). This strategy has not been popular with pedestrians, especially the elderly and those with a visual handicap (Devon County Council, 1991). Instead, city-wide traffic-calming initiatives in places like Odense in Denmark and Freiburg in Germany have been more successful in reducing car use and hence increasing road safety (Ralph & John, 2011).
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There is a strong correlation between personal safety against crime and elements of the built environment, such as reduced setbacks, night lightings, front porches, natural surveillance, and active land use (Alfonzo, 2005; Tiwari, 2015). Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) links criminology and urban design. The opportunity for crime can be reduced through appropriate design of the built environment (Newman, 1972). After CPTED interventions, the Five Oaks project in Ohio, USA, reported a 26 percent decrease in recorded crime. Residential areas such as Harbordale in Florida, USA, reported a significant reduction in crime rates, as well as a 5.5 percent increase in property values (Schneider & Kitchen, 2002). Increased perceptions of safety are attributed to increased levels of activity on the streets (Gehl, 2010). Areas with ‘movement’ and ‘place’ functions (Kelly et al., 2012), with frequent passers-by, shop owners, and residents who keep an eye on the street (Jacobs, 1961), are perceived as safer. Other factors contribute to perceptions of safety: buildings oriented towards streets so residents can watch the street life; streets with stores, bars, cafes, and restaurants with bustling activity; active frontages with increased openings at ground level and reduced solid:void ratio in a building fagade (Carmona et al., 2003),1 resulting in improved transparency; on-street parking adjacent to mixed uses; and informal street vendors (Tiwari, 2015). A connected street fabric with a multifaceted mix of uses creates a safe, interesting, lively public realm where community can interact and bond. Healthy Communities
Walking and cycling are everyday activities recognized as critical for a healthy community (Badland & Schofield, 2005; McCormack et al., 2004; Saelens & Handy, 2008). Obesogenic environments where people walk only from the main door to parking lots minimize physical activity and contribute to recent trends in inactivity and weight statistics. In compact neighborhoods with diverse land use patterns, people spend twice as much time weekly (137 minutes on average) walking to carry out everyday errands (Giles-Corti, 2006). About half as many residents are overweight compared to neighborhoods where activities have been separated and disconnected by modern zoning and design codes (Giles-Corti, 2006; Lehman & Boyle, 2007; Marshall et al., 2014; Saelens et al., 2003). Research further indicates that neighborhoods designed around public transport record more walking trips. A 2005 US travel survey found that 16 percent of all recorded walking trips were part of public transit trips and that these trips tended to be longer than average walking trips (Weinstein & Schimek, 2005). Walking to access public transport demands a high level of street connectivity and destination proximity (measured by density of intersections) (Ewing & Cervero, 2010).