Street Design and Community Safety

Welcome to the City of Groveland’s “Wednesday Workshop,” where we dissect the characteristics that make up a City with Natural Charm. This week we will explore a few ways in which street design impacts community health and safety.

In recent posts, we have discussed the concepts of New Urbanism and the significance of walkability as relating to the Community Development Code. Parking standards play an essential role in crafting walkable and livable communities by defining whether a space is pedestrian- or driver-oriented. For example, “shared parking” and “park-once” strategies are both New Urbanist concepts attempting to stray away from individual, on-site parking lots in order to increase pedestrian traffic and reduce the impact of parking on the public realm.

On-street parking can increase pedestrian comfort by serving as a buffer between pedestrians and moving traffic. Yet, safety concerns arise, particularly in residential areas, where narrow streets lined with parked cars on either side create detrimental obstacles to emergency response vehicles. Similarly, whereas narrow streets provide benefits such as less impervious surface, reduced traffic collisions and slower traffic speeds, adequate street width of at least 20 feet clearance is vital to the ability of emergency vehicles to quickly access a fire or medical emergency.

The problem with some of Groveland's streets today is that we currently allow on-street parking on both sides of street with a typical pavement width of 24 feet. On-street parking typically takes up 8 feet on each side, equaling 16 feet total. This leaves only 8 feet of access in some cases, much lower than 20 feet.

The new Comprehensive Plan and Community Development Code will address these issues through street design standards that support livability and safety. As stated in Article 4 of the Community Development Code, on-street parking will be limited to one side of the road for all thoroughfares with less than 36 feet in width. The selection of which side on-street parking is permitted will be decided according to the street’s context through collaboration with the surrounding community.

Correspondingly, the new Comprehensive Plan employs strong connectivity standards which will allow emergency response teams to reach their destinations more efficiently. As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), street connectivity refers to the “directness of links and the density of connections in a street network” and a well-designed street network “has many short links, numerous intersections, and minimal dead ends.” Strong connectivity will support health, safety and livability by addressing all transportation needs of the community.

The Image Gallery shows excerpts from the current draft of the Community Development Code, along with examples of street design in practice.