Mangstrasse: Ode to a livable street

A livable street is one of those things that is difficult to define, but you know one when you see one. Mangstrasse is a beautiful street set in a quiet community near the edge of the City – just across the train tracks from where my wife grew up. In the Fall, the mature trees turn a blazing red color. The street invites you to step outside for a leisurely stroll. There are no sidewalks but there are plenty of cues to drivers that people on foot have equal rights to the street. But, honestly, on a street like this the threat of cars hardly crosses your mind.

The street is three blocks long and bordered to the north by a bus route (Karl-von-Roth-St. which is also part of the main cycle network). A few blocks further north is a commuter rail station. This street exhibits the essential quality of a Munich-style “Verkehrsberuhigtebereich”, which one of my hosts referred to as the highest form of traffic calming. I think I know why they don’t refer to them as Spielstrasse ( play-streets) in Munich, as they do in other German cities. The essential quality is not kids playing, but rather the function of “staying”, which I have learned is one of three functions defined in the FGSV manual (German AASHTO equivalent) along with “access” and “connection” (or mobility).

Depending on the type of street and its role within the system, certain ones of these three functions are emphasized over others. On Mangstrasse, it is all about the “staying” (or more specifically the living quality). I, for one, would not mind “staying” on Mangstrasse for a while.

About Denver Igarta

This blog was established to document my search for streets that my 5-year old can play near without my constant supervision. Where kids can live active lives and learn independence. My quest began when I was selected as an Urban and Regional Policy Fellow by the German Marshall Fund, for info: I am a multi-modal transportation planner for the City of Portland (OR), America's sustainable transportation capital. SHORT BIO/PROJECT DESCRIPTION Denver Igarta (October-November 2011), Urban Planner, City of Portland Bureau of Transportation Project: Livable Streets Where People Live: Fostering People-Friendly Streets by De-emphasizing Automobile Traffic in Residential Areas Cities: Munich, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Malmö Denver Igarta is an urban planner with the Transportation Bureau of the City of Portland. He works on a broad range of transportation policy, street design initiatives and pedestrian, bicycle and freight planning efforts. He recently served as one of the principal authors of Portland's new bicycle plan. He is currently staffing two “active transportation” projects: a rails-with-trails project along the Banfield Freeway and a local street system plan for one of the state's most diverse neighborhoods. He performed his graduate studies at the University of Dortmund, Germany and the University of the Philippines and holds a Master of Science in Regional Development Planning. Portland is struggling to reverse generations of auto-oriented development patterns and make neighborhood streets more “livable” (people-friendly) by restoring their multimodal and placemaking functions. Mr. Igarta's research will evaluate how cities in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden have enacted policies to restore the multiple functions of public streets through traffic management, green infrastructure and giving priority to sustainable travel modes. He will meet with local practitioners, policymakers and civic leaders involved in transportation planning, traffic safety and neighborhood livability projects, street design, and implementation of multi-modal traffic policies. The ultimate aim of the study is to compile a set of best practices and policies implemented in European cities that have broadened the role of residential streets beyond automobile mobility. Additional focus will be given to understanding how acceptable policy tradeoffs are determined within city agencies and the level of public support for measures that restrict car movements, such as reduced speed zones, bicycle streets, shared spaces, residents-only streets and residential parking restrictions.
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