It’s easy to criticize existing streets as too fast, too ugly, too many cars, too unwalkable, etc.  But unless you’re an architect with specialty software and a big budget, it can be hard to depict how you’d reinvent the street to make it better.

That’s why a consortium of agencies in Utah partnered with Metro Analytics to create StreetPlan.net – a free on-line “drag and drop” tool where you can to depict an existing auto-oriented street, then start making it better!

StreetPlan offers “red / yellow / green” best practice guidance based on “Designing Walkable Thoroughfares” – a joint publication by the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Congress for New Urbanism (ITE and CNU).  Just tell StreetPlan the urban context and street type you want, and street elements turn red when they work against your desired outcome.

This overview highlights:

  1. Best practice guidance provided by StreetPlan
  2. General features of StreetPlan
  3. Comparison of StreetPlan vs. the popular StreetMix
  4. History, Testimonials, Known Uses for StreetPlan
  5. Examples of Streets Created with StreetPlan.

 

Best Practice guidance includes…

 

Hundreds of tiles to build with…

 

NACTO Templates

StreetPlan also has numerous templates from NACTO’s “Urban Street Design Guide.” Just download a template closest to what you want, and make changes to fit your situation.

Depth Layering

Tiles can be layered to show multiple uses. For example, show trees and planter boxes in the same lane as parallel parking; show a bike in front of a vehicle with a “sharrow” lane marker; or show a car in front of a bus to depict transit, but not exclusive right-of-way.

Unlimited Cloud-Based Projects

No matter where you are, just find a web browser to work on your projects.  Each project can have multiple streets, and each street can have multiple alternatives.

Email Sharing

Only you can modify your designs, but you can email the link to others so they can view and comment on your designs in read-only format.

StreetPlan vs. StreetMix

StreetMix.net is an open-source project by volunteer programmers.  It is widely used because it is very simple, and has been available much longer than StreetPlan.  In contrast, StreetPlan was designed by professional engineers and planners, and has far more capability. It’s biggest drawback relative to StreetMix is a longer learning curve, which we address with popup tutorials and “How-to” videos.   Both are completely free.

Below is an arterial street with the same features on both the left and right.  StreetMix graphics are sketches, while StreetPlan strives for a level of realism.  Also shown is a comparison list.


History, Testimonials, Known Uses

Early versions of StreetPlan from 2014 to now were limited to users primarily in Utah, while enhancements were developed for nation-wide release in August 2017.  Here is what we know from some of our first users:

  • Prior to StreetPlan, one community spent $12,000 in consultant fees, then waited over a month only to get “underwhelming” cross-section renderings.  Shortly after discovering StreetPlan, they redesigned the same cross-sections with no consultant assistance, and had something they liked better in about an hour, for free! (well, not quite free, as they’re still out $12k).
  • Several communities have required their staff & consultants to use StreetPlan on many of their Complete Street design projects.  Dozens of public meetings have occurred were StreetPlan was used.
  • Though architects have better software, they still like StreetPlan for quickly sketching many concepts, and allowing stakeholders to modify those concepts during meetings.  They then create 3D renderings from the short-list of favorites.
  • City staff are sketching typical sections and project ideas, then printing directly for inclusion in corridor plans and master plans.
  • Community groups are sketching what they want, rallying support, and taking their ideas to those with the power to do something about it.
  • College professors are using StreetPlan in urban planning classes.

Thanks to Our Partners!

StreetPlan.net is a Public-Private Partnership between Metro Analytics and several seed-funding agencies in Utah, including the Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments, Utah Department of Transportation, and Utah Transit Authority.

 

Example Uses – Logan, Utah

Existing Conditions:  Logan’s Main Street is depicted below as it exists today.  With roughly 85 feet of asphalt, it feels like an ocean of automobiles.

 

One-Way Walkable Boulevard:  Serious traffic congestion is getting worse each year, and they are considering converting to a one-way couplet to help manage traffic, but more importantly to them, to help release right-of-way for alternative uses.  Here is one rendition of what they may finally choose:

 

Example Uses – APA Great Streets

Broadway, New York:  Each year, the American Planning Association identifies several “Great Streets” across the country.  On StreetPlan’s home page, all awarded streets from 2014 and 2015 are depicted, including Broadway in New York.  The graphic below shows the components and dimensions of Broadway.  Notice the 9-ft lane on the left, yellow because it’s a little tight for buses.  The yellow 35 mph speed is also probably still a bit fast for the context.  Four lanes in one direction is also yellow – too many for a typical boulevard – but it is Manhattan after all.

 

Example Uses – NACTO Urban Street Design Guide

Main Street Template:  In addition to this Main Street, StreetPlan has templates for NACTO’s Residential Boulevard, Downtown One-Way, Multi-Way Boulevard, Yield Street, Transit Corridor, Commercial Alley, and Green Alley.  There are also templates for School Zone traffic calming, and a StrongTown’s “Stroad” (as an example of what NOT to do).

Commercial Alley Template:  Build anything from Alley’s to Freeways

 

Example Uses – Stroad vs. Place-Making Intersections

StrongTowns.org coined the phrase “Stroad” to describe the typical suburban arterial that tries to be both a Street (high-access commercial), and a Road (high-speed through traffic), and the dangerous hybrid ends up doing neither very well.  The top graphic is a typical Stroad, loaded with red flags.  The bottom is what’s possible with the same right-of-way using either a Quadrant or Bowtie intersection design, which makes it possible to reduce congestion, and in turn reduce speed limits (drive slower, travel faster).  See www.InnovativeIntersections.org for more on the Place-Making traffic management strategies.

 

Author

Mike is president of Metro Analytics and frequent author at Strong Towns. Strengths include Travel Demand Forecasting, Data Visualization, Place-Making Intersections, and Big Picture multi-modal solutions.

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