Streetscapes play an important role in forming the visual aspects, function, and identity of a built environment. Streetscapes help with traffic calming, accessibility, character, a sense of history or community, urban public life, moving people safely and efficiently, and supporting land use function and aesthetics. When designing streetscapes, a deep observation of key factors come into play including:
- Scale and form
- Characteristics and identity of place
- Pedestrian realm
- Overhead area
- Vehicle realm
- Sight lines
- Subsurface area and stormwater management
Baseline has provided services for various roundabouts and streetscapes that take into account identity and character, visual cues entering and exiting the intersections, year-round planting color and plant interest, lighting, safety, and maintenance. An example of this is the Town of Berthoud roundabout revitalization project. Inspired by the history and existing Town theme of “Garden Spot of Colorado,” the roundabout design was motivated by the history and character, prairie-inspired planting, identity of place, and beautiful views of the mountains. The roundabout focused on eye catching entrances and sight lines, a sense of arrival, pedestrian and vehicular safety, and long-term maintenance to create a re-envisioned space for the community.
Furthermore, it is important to be aware of budgetary considerations right from the beginning of the streetscape process. The costs for designing and installing a streetscape vary depending on the width of the sidewalk zone, the length of the project, the extent of streetscape elements, existing and proposed utility considerations and the level of customization desired. Maintenance concerns must also be addressed early in the streetscape design process. These issues often drive the type of amenities to be included since certain streetscape elements require ongoing maintenance.
Additionally, construction phasing and staging are vital considerations so that construction progresses in a controlled manner and keeps as much of the street intact for as long as possible. Access to businesses and/or residents is maintained throughout the construction project. Two-way traffic is maintained throughout construction. Parking is removed from one or both sides of the street, depending on the width of the right-of-way, to maintain two-way traffic
Bike lanes are another important element in a streetscape to achieve a shared streetscape experience between the sidewalk, parking lane, and travel lanes. The impact of a bike lane on a neighborhood helps to encourage bike-oriented travel, which helps reduce traffic congestion and pollution. This is especially true for short trips of five miles or less. The recommended width of a bike lane is 1.5 m (5 ft.) from the face of a curb or directly adjacent to the parking lane.
Lastly, roundabouts may also be a valuable consideration amongst other traffic calming measures. Roundabouts are designed to reduce your speed upon entry. While it may seem counter-intuitive, slowing down in a roundabout alleviates congestion. Slower speeds also make roundabouts safer than traditional intersections by reducing the speed in which any accident may occur. According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75 percent at intersection where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control. In addition, roundabouts provide safety for pedestrians. Short crossing distances and slow-moving traffic increase pedestrian safety. Raised islands are provided in the middle of each crossing so pedestrians only cross one direction of traffic at a time and have a place of refuge as they are crossing. Ultimately, streetscapes improve both the overall visual and functional aspects of communities. it is important to pay close attention to both components of these projects. There are many different details to consider which work together to create a safe, high-functioning, and beautiful environment and Baseline is here to help.