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A Pathway to Smarter City Streets

    The streets of new developments may be narrower in future, to make the most of limited land, but that’s not an efficient option for most existing streets. Fortunately, a team from architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and the City Tech Collaborative consortium are thinking of more viable street improvements for existing urban areas, reports American City & County. Using Chicago as object lesson, a team of 30-odd experts in design, engineering, transportation, urban planning, and other fields tackled the question of how streets will need to adapt to meet the future needs.

    The project investigated three planning scenarios: arterial, neighborhood commercial, and residential streets, encompassing a range of community demographics, locations in the city, transit services, and other variables. The experts modeled scenarios to address numerous assumptions on changes in behavior, expanding upon existing trends such as a decline in individual car ownership, more fluid work habits, and continued increases in home delivery. As a result of these forces, the team finds, city streets can expect a decease in surface parking, greater diversity of curbside uses, and expanded natural landscape and stormwater management, among other changes.