Arie de Zeeuwstraat: Ode to a livable street

If you listen closely you might just hear it…past the sounds of the ducks in the pond, and the sounds of the bicycles riding the “7” regional route, and the metro train passing through Capelsebrug station, and the neighbors in the street. Yes, if you listen carefully you may just hear the sound of cars and trucks passing along Prins Alexanderlaan, the main access road that runs along the east side of the neighborhood.

You may hear the through traffic passing along to some other destination, but you won’t see it. In s-Gravenland and other neighborhoods in Rotterdam, residents are sheltered from cut-through traffic and any harm it could cause to their living environment. The street pattern in this small community, built in the early 90s, is permeable (easy to move through) for people on foot or bicycle but not for motorists. The result is a traffic “haven” that protects residents in a similar way as the Rotterdam harbor has historically protected ships from harsh weather.

There are two access points from the south (the direction of the Metro station) and both are car-free pathways. The auto access points from the main traffic roads feature an entry with a raised crosswalk and sign which designates the entire area as 30 km per hour. The entry not only signifies to motorists that they need to yield to people on the neighborhood streets, but also, that there are “no through routes here” so move right along.

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The six north-south streets in the neighborhood each have a distinct street configuration and character. Some feature parking on both sides, and other only one side. Some have curbs with intermittent driveways and other streets are curbless. Some have a row of street trees and others have no trees. The final design is “always a result of improvisation,” I learned from one of the traffic designers who worked on the development of the street system.

The adjacent buildings and resulting parking needs are a primary factor determining the specific roadway configuration. The neighborhood is the most dense along the western edge (Prins Alexanderlaan) where there are 9 to 10 story apartments. As you move west, the density steps down until you reach Arie de Zeeuwstraat where families live in spacious sets of paired units.

George de Vosstraat, the access road into the neighborhood from the SE, is closed to motor vehicles (just west of Prins Alexanderlaan) creating two blocks of play space fully equipped with benches and playground equipment. This is a clear statement to motorists to beware that kids have priority in this neighborhood.

photo: google streetview

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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: gmfus.org/cdp/fellowships. 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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3 Responses to Arie de Zeeuwstraat: Ode to a livable street

  1. Greg Raisman says:

    I hope we’re able to use lessons learned from neighborhood streets like this and from amazing street segments like Goeree in the Lunetten – Zuid section of Utrecht for improving neighborhood safety and livability in places like Cully. What do we mean by “connectivity policy”?

  2. Tom Litster says:

    Nice slide show. How I wish streets in the US could be designed with “improvisation”.

  3. Marie Johnson says:

    I see in this some of our intentions in the City GreenWays effort – focusing on people movement, and incorporating green elements while responding to the local character of the built and natural form. seems so simple in principle; bet it’s more complicated in practice.

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