UDO Day 24: Parkways, Avenues, Boulevards

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You walk on them, drive on them and bike on them, but you probably don’t give much thought to how blocks, streets and streetscapes are designed. In Chapter 8 we take a look at those things.

We got on the phone with Eric Lamb, who is the city’s transportation planning manager, to take an idea of some of the big changes.

“Part of the code makes it easier to facilitate multimodal development patterns,” Lamb said. “So, looking at development patterns that are better for bikes, pedestrians and transit accessibility.”

He explained the old code has more emphasis on larger setbacks and natural buffers between  roads and buildings, which don’t encourage a walkable environment. The new code also nixes the ideas of thoroughfares, arteries and collector streets for the more traditional parkway, avenue and boulevard model.

The current 5-foot sidewalk regulation is being made larger to accommodate planting trees and more pedestrians in areas that require it.

“It’s making it easier for development to create a pattern that makes a community more walkable,” said Lamb.

The maximum length of a block is also changing. In the current code, the suburban standard is 1,500 feet. To put this into perspective, Lamb said the average block length in downtown Raleigh is 400 feet. The maximum block length would be shortened to 1,200 feet to encourage denser and vertical development.

Lamb said that the code changes would be fairly invisible at first, followed by some small-scale applications happening on the edges of the city.

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