This synthesis documents experience with selected streetcar and trolley projects and their
relationship with the built environment. There appears to have been a resurgence of such
systems in the United States. Their ability to spur growth and revitalization has not been
adequately documented, whereas local potential for changes in land use are often used as
justification for investment in them. Policymakers and planners seek a better understanding
of how this mode of transportation interacts with the built environment. The report examines
selected, built streetcar and trolley systems to trace their evolution, define significant factors,
and identify commonalities among levels of success in impacting the built environment.
This report presents an initial overview of published literature; a summary of an indepth
telephone survey of 13 of the 14 currently operating U.S. streetcar systems, a 93%
response rate; and case studies of five systems with more details on the state of current
knowledge and specific relationships of streetcars to their own built environments.
Federal Transit Administration
Transportation Research Board (TRB)
This synthesis provides a review of the application of a number of different transit preferential
treatments in mixed traffic and offers insights into the decision-making process that
can be applied in deciding which preferential treatment might be the most applicable in a
particular location. The synthesis is offered as a primer on the topic area for use by transit
agencies, as well as state, local, and metropolitan transportation, traffic, and planning
This synthesis is based on the results from a survey of transit and traffic agencies related
to transit preferential treatments on urban streets. Survey results were supplemented by a
literature review of 23 documents and in-depth case studies of preferential treatments in
four cities—San Francisco, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), and Denver. Eighty urban area transit
agencies and traffic engineering jurisdictions in the United States and Canada were contacted
for survey information and 64 (80%) responded. One hundred and ninety-seven individual
preferential treatments were reported on survey forms. In addition, San Francisco
Muni identified 400 treatments just in its jurisdiction.
Federal Transit Administration
Creating Places I "If a street is to become a comfortable, convenient and enjoyable place, it must be looked at holistically, that is, as a distinctive environment with many different interrelated elements reflecting the character, needs and aspirations of a particular community. It is the integration of these elements, including traffic calming, that both improves a street's balance between pedestrians and vehicles and creates a community friendly street environment." more...
Getting Back to Place: Using Streets to Rebuild Communities, pp. 17-23
Article / Paper / Report
Context Sensitive Solutions in Large Central Cities
In June, 2003, the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management hosted a peer-to-peer exchange to lay a foundation for dealing with the state of the practice and processes related to context sensitive solutions, and to identify specific examples that could be used as benchmarks for lessons learned and best practices in large central cities. Examples were drawn from Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, and Philadelphia.
Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management
The Urban Network: A Radical Proposal
"California is expected to grow by 12 million people in the next 20 years. Many other states, while not growing as fast, are also experiencing major migrations to suburban areas as much as we may like development to focus on infill and redevelopment, such efforts will only solve part of the growth problem. Even Portland, Oregon, with its urban growth boundary and strong urban design policies, satisfies only 30 percent of its growth with infill and redevelopment."
When Main Street is a State Highway
This handbook is a comprehensive outline for a groundbreaking project development process and uses a team approach to present a means of organizing, developing and working cooperatively with SHA on highway improvements that reflect community goals.
-- State Highway Administration: Maryland Department of Transportation
Article / Paper / Report
2005 Urban Mobility Report
Congestion continues to grow in Americas urban areas. Despite a slow growth in jobs and
travel in 2003, congestion caused 3.7 billion hours of travel delay and 2.3 billion gallons of
wasted fuel, an increase of 79 million hours and 69 million gallons from 2002 to a total cost of
more than $63 billion. The solutions to this problem will require commitment by the public and
by national, state and local officials to increase investment levels and identify projects, programs
and policies that can achieve mobility goals. The 2005 Report shows that the current pace of
transportation improvement, however, is not sufficient to keep pace with even a slow growth in
travel demands in most major urban areas.
-- David Schrank, Tim Lomax
Article / Paper / Report
Design Guidance for Great Streets: Addressing Context Sensitivity for Major Urban Streets
This paper presents the progress of a joint project of the Institute of Transportation Engineers
and the Congress for the New Urbanism. Together, the two organizations are working to prepare
guidance for context sensitive design of major urban streets, drawing on principles and
techniques from the new urbanist and smart growth movements. New urbanism is a movement
in planning, design and development that is re-establishing compact, walkable and
environmentally sustainable neighborhoods, cities and towns. Smart growth is an approach to
development and conservation that advocates, among other objectives, strengthening and
directing development toward existing communities and fostering distinctive and attractive
places. Streets that are both beautiful and functional -- great streets -- will advance the
objectives of both movements as well as the practice of context sensitive design.
In addition to addressing design criteria in the project's deliverables, CNU and ITE will be
working in three areas crucial to implementation of our principles at scales from the region to the
building: network design; understanding of context and community character; and revisions to
the functional class system. Work on these topics by a multidisciplinary group of CNU and ITE
member-practitioners is in its earliest stages. This paper introduces the project in its "project
history and overview" section and then presents findings of initial work on a literature review
being conducted as a project start-up task. The emphasis of the literature review is evaluation of
conventional and innovative street design resources to assess their contributions to the project's
Congress for New Urbanism (CNU)
Institute of Transportation Engineers
Route 9 Reconstruction New York, NY
After more than 20 years of planning and design efforts, the reconstruction of what was formerly known as the West Side Highway in Manhattan finally began. A proposal originally conceived in the early 1970s for the construction of a six-to-eight lane interstate freeway facility known as Westway, which would have been partly elevated and partly depressed below grade, was withdrawn in 1985. In 1987, the city of New York and New York State established a joint West Side Task Force in an attempt to reach a consensus on what action should be taken to replace the deficient interim highway, and the alternative ultimately was a basic six-lane urban boulevard with three travel lanes provided on either side of a raised, landscaped median. This project shows how a collaborative, multidisciplinary planning and design process, incorporating a high level of continuous public involvement, can result in the creation of a world-class street design and also how detailed investigations of travel demand and traffic movement patterns can result in a dramatic change in the scale of the proposed improvement.
Town Center of Nakskov, Denmark Nakskov,
"In the town of Nakskov, a bicycle route network has been established in and around the town center. The project has not only resulted in much better conditions for the cyclists, but has also improved the town aesthetically and given Nakskov its own character."
Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara has an excellent waterfront trail system, downtown bike lanes, roadway underpasses and other facilities. The waterfront trail features a two-way bicycle lane and a pedestrian walkway, all separated from the road by a raised concrete border. Bicycle lanes are available on State Street downtown, and bicycle racks are installed on commercial streets downtown. Bicycle lanes can also be found next to bus pull-outs at transit stops.
New York City, Mulry Square New York, NY
Sidewalk extensions, reconfigured crosswalks, and additional greening of the area have helped transform this intersection that was known for pedestrian accidents and high-speed turns. Sidewalk extensions were painted on the street in the short term and outlined with temporary bollards to test the impact of the recommendations on traffic flow. Once it was clear that the solutions worked, the project was built out in final form, with slate pavers, granite curbs, new crosswalks, landscaping, bollards, and changes in traffic light phasing. Capital construction was completed in 2001.
Bulbouts in Davis, CA Davis, CA
Planted sidewalk extensions were added by developer of a mixed-use building on C Street near the Farmers Market.
The Sixteenth Street Transitway: Twenty Years of Public-Private Partnership and Reinvestment Denver, CO
Denver's 16th Street Transit Mall - a mile-long
transit way and public promenade lined with trees,
shops, and restaurants - serves as a transit and
pedestrian thoroughfare and demonstrates how a
transit partnership can help create a livable metropolitan
area. Exemplifying elements of innovative
transportation services, high-quality design, and
attention to management detail, the mall is an integral
part of downtown Denver, nationally known as
one of the most attractive and economically viable
city centers in the country. The Downtown Denver
Business Improvement District, originally called the
16th Street Mall Management District, is a public/
private partnership that maintains the mall. Over
45,000 transit passengers use the mall daily and
45,000 pedestrians walk portions of the mall.
Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative: Rebuidling Disinvested Neighborhood "Main Streets" from the Bus Stop Up Los Angeles, CA
The Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI),
sponsored by Mayor Richard Riordan, is undertaking
a 30-month demonstration project that seeks to provide
an economic stimulus to eight transit-dependent
neighborhoods through community planned transportation
improvements, housing, and commercial
rehabilitation, and development. Incorporated in
1994, LANI has established community organizations
in each neighborhood and provided technical support,
training, and funding for demonstration projects
around transit facilities.