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.