green streets
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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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US Highways Could Be Converted into Solar Farms

US Highways Could Be Converted into Solar Farms | green streets |

Given the predominant role of the automobile in American transportation for both passenger and freight purposes, as well as the sheer length and breadth of the continental United States, roads and highways cover a huge amount of the country.

Scott and Julie Brusaw, the husband and wife team behind renewable energy start-up Solar Roadways, are looking to exploit the potential embodied by this vast road network by develop a technology to convert their surfaces into solar PV facilities which are capable of both bearing vehicles as well as generating power via exposure to sunlight.

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Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde

Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde | green streets |

Glow-in-the-dark roads and responsive street lamps were among the concepts to make highways safer while saving money and energy at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town earlier this month.

The Smart Highways project by Studio Roosegaarde proposes five energy-efficient concepts that will be tested on a stretch of highway in the Brabant province of the Netherlands from the middle of this year.

The first of the concepts is a glow-in-the-dark road that uses photo-luminescent paint to mark out traffic lanes. The paint absorbs energy from sunlight during the day the lights the road at night for up to 10 hours. Temperature-responsive road paint would show images of snowflakes when the temperature drops below zero, warning drivers to take care on icy roads.

There are two ideas for roadside lighting: interactive street lamps that come on as vehicles approach then dim as they pass by, thereby saving energy when there is no traffic, and "wind lights" that use energy generated by pinwheels as drafts of air from passing vehicles cause them to spin round. Additionally, an induction priority lane would incorporate induction coils under the tarmac to recharge electric cars as they drive...

Learn more about these innovative proposals and associated technology at the article link.

Norm Miller's curator insight, March 25, 2013 1:15 PM

First we learned to sequence traffic lights.  Now we can capture energy for better road marking.  Next we will have computer guided car tracks that let us travel more efficiently as a group better utilizing existing highways.  Add in more fuel efficient or electric cars and we have a pretty good outlook for cleaner cities and less dependency on non-renewable resources.

Jim Gramata's comment, March 30, 2013 12:09 PM
If there is one area that needs focus and improvement it is highways. Agreed!
Anji Connell's curator insight, April 14, 2013 12:59 AM

Great idea No !

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Will Smart Technologies Shape Future Highways?

Will Smart Technologies Shape Future Highways? | green streets |

With the proliferation of mobile electronic technologies, interactive displays have begun to appear more frequently in fixed contexts such as smart rooms and media-driven building facades.

The latest focus of smart surface research is on the most connective element of the constructed environment: the road.

At the recent Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, Studio Roosegaarde announced a joint effort with Heijmans Infrastructure to create the Smart Highway. This proposal for an electronically-enhanced road system fuses disparate elements of existing road infrastructure. Lighting, signage, and the roadbed are now a singular, integrated system.

The Digital Interactive Roadway designed by BIG for the Audi Urban Future exhibition in 2011 proposes a similar roadbed enhancement. The surface of the DIR incorporates strips of LED lights and a distributed network of sensors that respond directly to changing automotive and pedestrian traffic.

Visit the link to learn more about these forward-thinking projects and the potential for innovative digital technologies to shape roads and infrastructure...

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What the Interstate Highway System Should Have Looked Like

What the Interstate Highway System Should Have Looked Like | green streets |

This anecdote has been told at Cities before but it bears repeating: Eisenhower himself didn't realize the Interstate Highway System would cut through American cities until a few years after construction began. Ike had wanted a national road network like the one he'd seen in Germany during World War II. But he'd also wanted these roads to stop at the doorsteps of cities, not push right past.

That story comes to mind reading a recent paper from University of Southern California scholar Marlon Boarnet in this month's Transport Policy. Boarnet outlines a series of lessons that developing countries might learn from America's great road expansion experiment. By far the most compelling is his suggestion that the Interstate Highway System should have been two distinct systems: one running between cities, and another running within them

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How to 'Rightsize' a Street

How to 'Rightsize' a Street | green streets |

The concept of a "road diet” has become increasingly popular, though the phrase fails to capture the wide variety of ways in which streets planned and paved decades ago often awkwardly fit the needs of changing communities today.

In many cases, redesigning city streetscapes is not just (or not at all) about eliminating roadway. It may be about adding parking (to benefit new businesses), or building a new median (for pedestrians who were never present before), or simply painting new markings on the pavement (SCHOOL X-ING).

According to the Project for Public Spaces, we might do better to think of the task as “rightsizing” streets instead of starving them. This week, the nonprofit planning and design organization published a series of case studies from across the country illustrating exactly what this could look like in a variety of settings. The above image pair, from the collection, shows before-and-after scenes of Prospect Park West in Brooklyn. Starting in the summer of 2010, the New York City Department of Transportation began retrofitting the street to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians crossing into Prospect Park. The whole project wasn’t simply a matter of pruning traffic lanes, but of adding yield signs, new traffic signal timing, bike lanes and pedestrian islands.

American Grove's comment, January 28, 2013 8:56 AM
Too often space for trees (6 feet minimum) are left off the plan in a road diet.
American Grove's curator insight, January 28, 2013 8:59 AM

Munciple Arborist Beware!  Too often sufficient space for trees are being left out of the plans in road diets.  The problem is competing space for paths, bikeways, parking squeeze out an 8ft planting strip to a 4 ft planting strip or less.  4 Strip planting strips is not enough soil for shade trees. Bulb outs into parking and root bridging are innovative ways to work with the lack of space but requires an arborist to help plan. 

Suzette Jackson's curator insight, September 10, 2014 6:23 PM

Has your city 'rightsized' your streets? Slowing traffic and creating more engaging neighbourhoods

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Los Angeles Seeks Pedestrians

Los Angeles Seeks Pedestrians | green streets |
A pilot project aims to pave the way for community-led reuses of L.A. streets.

The automobile is undoubtedly the dominant mode of travel in Los Angeles. But to write off the city as made up entirely of car-driving, bumper-to-bumper rush hour commuters is clearly an over-generalization. A growing group of Angelenos is finding ways to make transit, cycling, and walking (and, often, a combination thereof) relevant and viable in their daily lives.

A physical example of this transition opened this weekend in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood. On a short strip of street bordering a small triangular park within a vibrant commercial area, officials from the city’s departments of planning, transportation, and public works partnered with the county’s public health department to close the street off to car traffic and convert it into an outdoor plaza. On 11,000 square-feet, the roadway has been effectively removed form the automobile grid with the simple application of paint (in glowing neon green polka-dots), bike racks and planters around the edges and seating in the middle. The project was inspired by similar street plazas created in New York City and San Francisco.

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