Home » Transportation » Building Streets, Not Roads – A Discussion About Transportation

Building Streets, Not Roads – A Discussion About Transportation

Strong Towns

Yesterday, Bike Hutto attended the Strong Towns Workshop, Transportation in the Next American City.  Before going any further…

“THE MISSION OF STRONG TOWNS IS TO SUPPORT A MODEL OF GROWTH THAT ALLOWS AMERICA’S CITIES, TOWNS AND NEIGHBORHOODS TO BECOME FINANCIALLY STRONG AND RESILIENT.”

The workshop was a wonderful discussion about the current state of transportation in this country and some of the issues that cities are facing as we look at both the building and maintaining of infrastructure.  If I can provide one takeaway for those that were not in attendance, it would be this:  “Building Financially Productive Places is More Art Than Science.”  We have to stop only looking at codes, zoning, etc. and look at the art of designing places that are going to promote productivity and human interaction.  And then we fit in the science.

Some other great nuggets to wrap our brains around: 

“The way cities make wealth is by making small incremental changes over time.”

“In an affluent society when faced with an urgent problem, we spend more money.  We don’t rethink the situation and come up with alternatives.”

“Complete streets accommodate pedestrians within an auto-dominated environment.  Productive places accommodate automobiles within an environment dominated by people.”

“We are so obsessed with chasing dollars on the edge that we are ignoring the pennies, nickels, and dimes in our neighborhoods.”

“We have run out of money, it is time to start thinking.” (Ernest Rutherford)

“When we focus our efforts, we can accomplish a lot in a very short period of time.”

**More great insights from the Strong Towns workshop can be found by following #StrongCTX on Twitter

**For a great example of land use and tax revenue as it pertains to Hutto, check out Hutto Senior Planner Erika Ragsdale’s info: http://tinyurl.com/kbxoq27

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So what does this all mean?  And how does this pertain to Hutto?  To bicycling?  

Charles Marohn, president of Strong Towns, reminded us of the difference between a road and a street.

A road is a high-speed connection between two spots.  A street is a platform for creating wealth.  So in our scenario, a road would be Hwy 79.  A street would be East St downtown — and the potential that it has.  We need more streets in Hutto.  Streets are productive places where community members gather to socialize, to shop, to eat, to play.  Streets are people focused and are safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.  This isn’t a message of anti-car.  It is rather a focus on people, the citizens of the community.

But we also have to pay attention to the other message that resonates in the quotes from the workshop mentioned above.  Building great streets is not just about spending a ton of money.  Everything takes money, but it is about planning and designing carefully with purpose — being artful.  And spending only what can be afforded.  “Small incremental changes over time.”

We need to ask ourselves.  What can we do now?  What can bring the most benefit without breaking the budget.  Let’s continue the conversation….

How can we make some small changes to make our city better?

How can we encourage more productive places? 

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