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  • Raeli.Savitt

    This already exists in Manhattan in certain areas.

    • BrooklynMama

      Also in Brooklyn, check out intersection of Smith Street and Bergen Street on Google Maps for an example. Does not mess up bike lane either as other commenters have implied.

  • MoCosmo

    Love the progressive aesthetic. It's good to challenge the accepted thinking, but unless it has massive political backing, I'm curious how it does/will address the usual design challenges:
    Sf fire will want to drive over those curbs during an emergency. It's an interesting choice to render an intersection a block and a half down a tight street from a fire station - they probably already roll those curbs on a daily basis. Add in that SF fire has taken an increasingly political stance against bulb outs.

    For accessibility, the flush curb at the crosswalks will need warning strips and (if that wide) bollards. The striping might only be allowed outboard of the warning strip edge, and need to be straightened out (boring) so that the visually impaired have cues telling them they're A) in the street, B) walking in the right direction. Alternatively, an even less directional pattern might help dispel confusion.

    The visibility issue (mentioned above) is also huge.

    ... maybe you've had all these conversations, but SF politics -wise I would start with accessibility and fire, instead of trying to ram something past them (if we're being realistic). If the bold aesthetic gets too watered down it just becomes a thin veneer on the familiar safety/public-realm-space-making concepts where we humbly began. Good luck. I really am rooting for you to solve this with your creativity and further the conversation.

  • robert s

    In general, I appreciate the effort to increase ped safety with the enhanced curb and parkway improvements but curbs are actually designed to channel runoff and maintain traffic flow and speed. In Japan and in many european cities, bollards have been used to great effect to separate vehicles from pedestrians while also helping to maintain slower vehicle speeds. In such instances, there are no curbs in between the walkway and the road. Also, from a sustainability standpoint, no curbs mean you can install bioswales to reduce runoff and and increase water recharge.

  • reveca torres

    This is great. Please keep in mind pedestrians with disabilities as well! Those who have mobility impairments and use canes or wheelchairs, the blind who need those little yellow bumps to know when the curve ends, and sound indicators to know when it's appropriate walk across the street. I am a wheelchair user and the frequently I find that as I cross the street there is no curb cut on the other side. This means I have to travel on the street and this is dangerous. Anyway, keep on... I just wanted to share my experience so that it is in your mind as you continue projects like this! Be well!

  • EricWeinstein

    Any sort of bulb out is deadly for cyclists. The road narrows suddenly and you're forced into the car traffic lane! Not a good thing! All these protrusions a designed to reduce the time of peds in an intersection,but they take too much of the decision - making time away from the traffic. Safety islands seem to work a bit better. How about you try again with a center street island?

    • Zoë Prillinger

      Please see my response to a similar comment below:

      (Good question (there are several comments regarding how curb extensions affect bike lanes). It would be irrational to create bike lanes only to abruptly truncate them at intersections, forcing bikers into car traffic.

      By design, bulb-outs don't encroach on the bike lane at all (and thus, don't 'narrow' the portion of road used for movement), but instead only occupy the width of the parking lane at the corner. Because parked cars don't typically wrap around the corner, cyclists naturally 'cut' these corners diagonally--but then they're still forced to merge adjacent to fast-moving cars that haven't confronted any slowing measures across the intersection.

      With this in mind, we designed our bulb outs to accomplish what a curb-height, rounded bulb-out might not--slowing traffic not just on the turn, but across the entire intersection zone. Their bulk and height, in addition to ample surface hatching, reduce vehicular speed from all street directions, and the chamfered geometry still allows cyclists to 'cut corners' without being forced into traffic in the intersection.

      In locations where bike lanes have been created by eliminating parking lanes, I agree that curb extensions are problematic. Our in-depth proposal (not fully described in this article) allows for site-specific variations, which in a case like this might have curb extensions only on one side of the street (eg. the new bike lanes on Oak and Fell Streets).)

  • robingoodmellow

    I'd rather see parking lots built around the outside of cities. Everyone leaves their car there and has [the privilege of] the fine experience of walking, biking, or taking public transportation within the city limits.

  • Frankle

    sure - there's a great book called 'Traffic' which quotes an example of how to reduce pedestrians being hit by cars - wide open streets tend to cause cars to speed up and pay less attention (texting while they're driving ?) - so they deliberately narrowed the streets, blurred the boundaries with shared walking spaces, plants and obstacles - result: cars slowed down, paid attention, less accidents !

  • Simon Heard

    I would suggesting replacing all "planters" with edible alternatives. I believe we need to start creating spaces for communities to feed themselves rather than be forced to reply on corporate food entities. Fruit trees, herbs, or free space for gorilla gardening would be brilliant. Why not eat an apple while we wait at the lights?

    • Teagan McShane

      But wouldn't the pollution from the cars kind of spoil the edible plants though? Otherwise it's a good idea :) In some cities they have rooftop bee keeping to help with pollination.

  • Mayer Dahan

    The substantial curb is a great idea for making our streets safer along with encouraging more public transportation which lowers our carbon footprint. This idea would be great in Los Angeles and all major cities to lower the risks for pedestrians.

  • Oliver McDermott

    This is not a good design at all. I like the idea and thought process but the execution is a way off. Consider changing the environment into a 'communal environment' before the intersection and lose the horrible big curbs which are dangerous. If it is truly a communal area then change the road surface to cobble or something. If it is a high flow traffic area then it shouldn't be a communal area and another solution should be considered.

  • EricB

    I really like this design. This substantial curb will certainly cause car drivers to slow down and pay attention. Also, the planters will beautify and encourage people in cars, walking or bicycling to want to spend time in this area.

  • Colin Willox

    I work right around there. Will be nice to think about this as I'm walking around.

  • miaminews

    Always be careful

  • Donna D.

    The image above looks like it would make the intersection even more dangerous by reducing visibility of both the pedestrians and oncoming traffic. The raised curb in the median could easily hide a small child or dog. Looking at the image, there's a car in the oncoming traffic that is barely visible behind the curb and foliage. The extra paint and flowers, while attractive, are also distracting. I'd advise the designers to think twice on this idea.

  • william.furr

    Where does the bike lane go? I love curb extensions when I'm walking, but I hate them when I'm cycling – they force me into the traffic lane with cars. What about routing a bike lane behind the curb extension so that there's a small island between the bike lane and the traffic lane?

    The example intersections you chose here all have street parking on both sides of all streets. That's a ton of asphalt given over to private vehicle storage, and a configuration that's hopefully becoming less common as road space is re-apportioned fairly to other uses, such as bike lanes.

    • Zoë Prillinger

      Good question (there are several comments regarding how curb extensions affect bike lanes). It would be irrational to create bike lanes only to abruptly truncate them at intersections, forcing bikers into car traffic.

      By design, bulb-outs don't encroach on the bike lane at all (and thus, don't 'narrow' the portion of road used for movement), but instead only occupy the width of the parking lane at the corner. Because parked cars don't typically wrap around the corner, cyclists naturally 'cut' these corners diagonally--but then they're still forced to merge adjacent to fast-moving cars that haven't confronted any slowing measures across the intersection.

      With this in mind, we designed our bulb outs to accomplish what a curb-height, rounded bulb-out might not--slowing traffic not just on the turn, but across the entire intersection zone. Their bulk and height, in addition to ample surface hatching, reduce vehicular speed from all street directions, and the chamfered geometry still allows cyclists to 'cut corners' without being forced into traffic in the intersection.

      In locations where bike lanes have been created by eliminating parking lanes, I agree that curb extensions are problematic. Our in-depth proposal (not fully described in this article) allows for site-specific variations, which in a case like this might have curb extensions only on one side of the street (eg. the new bike lanes on Oak and Fell Streets).

      • william.furr

        Thank you for the well thought-out reply. I can see how that would work well for a bike lane that's between the traffic lane and parking lane.

        Those sorts of bike lanes are a sub-par design, though, compared to a protected or buffered bike lane, often seen with floating parking, such as this design on 1st and 2nd Ave in NYC: http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/images/photos/protected_bike_lane_photo.jpg

    • Jill Young

      william.furr, I salute you on the bike lane argument.

  • Jeanne Kays

    Great project! Just curious, though, how do these new spaces affect bicycle traffic and safety?

  • Suzanne Mannion

    I'd also recommend checking out vision42 (http://www.vision42.org/), which proposes converting NYC's 42nd Street into an auto-free boulevard with light-rail and pedestrian-friendly environment.

  • Jason Friesen

    We need people thinking like you in developing countries. Urban planning is such an important part of road safety - exactly as you're writing here - except the designs used to build our roads don't apply to their countries and communities - yet they persist. You may already know this guy (and you may not be too involved in developing countries), but this gentleman, Dinesh Mohan, is thinking on the same line as you: "how we might introduce natural forms into infrastructure to make a safe public space which is both communal and non-commercial, a more livable city?" http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/31/3/527.full

    Great article - cheers!

  • Jane Sleeth

    This is all about good human factors and ergonomic design! So nice to see this being used in the area of accident prevention! JE Sleeth President Optimal Performance Consultants Ergonomic Design

  • Jane Sleeth

    This is all about the science of ergonomic and human factors design. Great to see this being implemented and hope the architects tapped into the science based expertise of an ergonomic firm. JE Sleeth Optimal Performance Consultants