Context - Fall 2016 - 21

be called upon to serve more purposes than just facilitating the flow
of cars. Most fundamentally, streets are the center of a community's
civic life. They are the places where people interact. Those interactions
happen most effectively within the pedestrian realm, so it is essential
for streets to be safe and comfortable for people walking.
Streets are also economic engines. Well-designed streets facilitate
commerce and enhance economic competitiveness. In one example,
the city of Lancaster, California rebuilt its main street to slow traffic
and improve the pedestrian realm. The reconstruction of Lancaster
Boulevard resulted in the creation of 48 new businesses and over 800
new jobs. Sales tax revenue nearly doubled and the commercial vacancy
rate plummeted to only four percent.
The economic benefits of Complete Streets are also felt at home.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation is the
second largest expense for a typical family, falling behind only housing.
The benefits of inexpensive distant suburban housing tend to be offset
by higher transportation costs if households have to rely on driving as
their only way to get around. When walking, bicycling, and transit are
viable options, reduced car ownership can save families money on car
payments, insurance, gas, and maintenance.
Furthermore, streets are open space. In some communities streets
form between one-quarter and one-third of all publicly owned land, so
it is imperative that they serve many functions. Montgomery County,
Pennsylvania's Green Fields/Green Towns grant program recognized
this fact and awarded open space funding to communities seeking to

improve their streets as key elements of the public realm. Streets that
form inviting public spaces can still serve an important environmental
role by incorporating green stormwater infrastructure. In Narberth,
Pennsylvania, the borough is upgrading Windsor Avenue to manage
runoff while serving as a gateway to a library and park.
Finally, an increasing amount of research links public health with
physical activity. Streets that encourage walking, bicycling, and riding
transit allow people to incorporate that physical activity into their daily
lives without carving time out of already busy schedules and relying on
gym memberships. In fact, it is reported that one-third of regular transit
users meet the minimum daily physical activity requirement during their
commutes without the need for additional exercise.

Measuring streets
With all of these benefits accruing to streets, it is no longer sufficient
to measure streets only by how many cars they carry during peak hours
or the rate of crashes that occur along them. We must now measure
the success of our streets differently, with a wider range of measures
and a multidisciplinary perspective to ensure that streets are designed
to address those measures.
The Complete Streets movement arose just over ten years ago in
response to this challenge. The National Complete Streets Coalition, a
group of affiliated professional societies and advocacy organizations,
carries the banner for this effort. In their words, "Complete Streets are
streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access


Lancaster Boulevard after improvements

AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2016 21


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Context - Fall 2016

Editors’ Letter
Up Close
Design Profiles
Index to Advertisers
Mayor Kenney’s Infrastructure Policy
Green Infrastructure in Philadelphia: The Reading Viaduct Rail Park
Streets: They’re Not Just for Cars Any More
Context - Fall 2016 - ebelly1
Context - Fall 2016 - ebelly2
Context - Fall 2016 - cover1
Context - Fall 2016 - cover2
Context - Fall 2016 - 3
Context - Fall 2016 - 4
Context - Fall 2016 - Editors’ Letter
Context - Fall 2016 - Community
Context - Fall 2016 - 7
Context - Fall 2016 - 8
Context - Fall 2016 - 9
Context - Fall 2016 - Up Close
Context - Fall 2016 - 11
Context - Fall 2016 - Mayor Kenney’s Infrastructure Policy
Context - Fall 2016 - 13
Context - Fall 2016 - 14
Context - Fall 2016 - 15
Context - Fall 2016 - Green Infrastructure in Philadelphia: The Reading Viaduct Rail Park
Context - Fall 2016 - 17
Context - Fall 2016 - 18
Context - Fall 2016 - 19
Context - Fall 2016 - Streets: They’re Not Just for Cars Any More
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Context - Fall 2016 - Expression
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Context - Fall 2016 - Design Profiles
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Context - Fall 2016 - Marketplace
Context - Fall 2016 - Index to Advertisers
Context - Fall 2016 - cover3
Context - Fall 2016 - cover4