Sunday, November 8, 2009

Better Practices

Somewhat recently, Streetfilms did a short piece on where we plant our street trees. Specifically, why don't we plant them in the road?

Without question, street trees fundamentally improve the pedestrian experience along city streets. Their canopies provide shade and shelter from the wind and rain, but they take up a small amount of valuable street space. This space is almost always taken from the sidewalk. Pedestrians can maneuver around tree trunks better than cars, so this makes some sense.

But cities around the world (the Streetfilms piece is about Melbourne, Australia) and those close to home are trying something that might be a lot better, at least along streets with narrow sidewalks.

Those cities are taking the space occupied by a few parking spaces along a given block and planting trees in the parking lane:

Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz

University Avenue in Berkeley

The obstacle to doing this in SF is the omnipresent opposition to removing any parking spaces. The few spaces 'lost' to new street trees, however, could easily be replaced in some situations by adding spaces on side streets or removing curb cuts to inactive garages.

The benefits are functionally wider sidewalks, less root damage to brittle concrete, and more space for the trees' canopies away from buildings. My question is, given the benefits this option affords, why wasn't it considered as part of the Cesar Chavez redesign project?


Matt Fisher said...

Melbourne has more miles of tram track than anywhere else on Earth (245 km so far). Just wanted to add. They got to keep most of what we didn't up here in North America. :)

Tamagosan said...

Fantastic idea. Variation of it in Glen Park: Check out the trees in the sidewalk bulbs on Chenery on the few blocks leading up to Elk (Glen Canyon).

MB94128 said...

Please take a second look at some of the blocks in the residential neighborhoods. I think you'll find quite a few places between two driveways that's too small for ANY kind of car. Some would be barely big enough for a meter maid trike of yore to park perpendicular. I've seen these curb frags all over San Francisco - Sunset, Mission, Excelsior, Richmond, etc. Turning some of them into bulb-outs with trees could reduce the frequency of driveway blocking.