One of the best contributions to the built environment is by far the Stroad. These Street-Road hybrids are regularly overlooked for their positive contribution to the American built landscape. Stroads are practically everywhere which is a testament to their success and popularity. These are transportation feats that have taken over 50 years to develop into the form we know today. If it was not for the advancement in to the technology of sheer bolts and reduction in widths of clear zones the Stroad would be be nothing but a common street. Only the diverging diamond highlights a great level of engineering as to what is possible when a transportation engineer is provided the opportunity to design our cities.
My good friend Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns introduced me to the Stroad which changed my entire perspective looking out from the window of my local Chili’s. Chuck to the time to give me a windshield tour of my first Stroad almost 10 years ago. From the passenger seat of that car, everything looked more urban as we sped through town. While stopped at one of the many traffic lights, I could only then appreciate the intricate design of the lamp posts with banners. Like me but far more eloquently, Chuck has shared his love and passion for these marvels through his extensive writing. He loves them so much he wrote a wonderful book “Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town.”
My mentor and fellow Ohioan, Dan Burden, invited me to many Walking Audits of these Street-Road hybrids. Some were so impressive with 13-14 foot travel lanes and some also included bike lanes and on-street parking. These were adrenaline rich adventures where the pace of the pedestrian is increased and clearly more productive as they attempted to run across 5 lanes of traffic. Dan too is a huge fan as he visits over 200 of these a year educating residents on all the possibilities an opportunity a Stroad can bring to their community.
The Stroad is just so widely used and repeated, I think we forget about this mangled collection of engineering that is right in front of us. We need a red pill to remind us as to how blessed we are to have so many Stroads across our sprawling development where the transportation engineer has provided a simple reminder of urbanism as they decorated the shoulder between the curb cuts.
Here are a couple of key benefits the Stroad can add to your community:
- These Street-Road hybrids showcase the very best in transportation design by balancing on the delicate edge between desire for speed and need for segregated land use
- By far the Stroad checks every box to capture every possible penny offered through federal grants and tax subsidy
- If not for Stroads, we would only have paved shoulders to stitch together fields of parking lots instead of a curb and sidewalk
- Every lamp post and street sign deserves a proper home within the middle of 4 foot wide sidewalk
- If not for the sidewalk on a 5-6 lane road, there would be no accommodation for the sign spinners
- The sidewalk and curb on the Stroad provide adequate crash zone to allow for landscaping behind the sidewalk
- Stroads provide the illusion that a community is attempting to accommodation for the pedestrian and meeting Title II goals for accessibility
- No one has to choose if you blend to great things into one: Street-Road
- The public process is simplified because you can get maximum lanes and appease the pedestrian and bicycle lobby
- The Stroad assists in inducing traffic so that the community can keep pace with the proposed trip generation of the traffic forecast
- Once built, you can easily modify the character by changing the 45 mph sign to 25 mph
If you have made it this far, I want to wish you a very happy April 1st!