C h a p t e r 2 M e t r ic s of S ucc e s s f u l D owntowns
2.1 Design Elements
Design elements that contribute to successful downtown environments include:
Short Blocks & Dense Street Network This feature provides enhanced walkability for people and increased connectivity for cars. The average block length between cross-streets should be shorter in a downtown environment because it feels more pedestrian in scale. It also means shorter distances between shops and creates a coherent network. On-Street Parking This element provides a one ton safety barrier between moving cars and pedestrians. Ground floor retail also requires convenient parking to be successful. Retail will not survive without it; patrons see cars parked on the street as a signal of activity and a need to slow down and take a look. On-street parking also provides friction for moving traffic and provides an inherent traffic calming element.
S S Short blocks and dense street networks
S S On-street parking
Continuous Frontage This element keeps pedestrians and
bicyclists interested while traveling along the street. Research has proven that people are more likely to keep walking along a continuous frontage to see what is beyond. One vacant tenant space can create barriers to success, so maintaining active uses on the ground floor block by block is key. Spatial Enclosure The ratio of building height to street width is essential to creating a comfortable public realm. Too much enclosure can feel narrow and unsafe, too little can feel vast and empty to pedestrians. Achievable ratios vary based on right-of-way width, but street trees can help create spatial enclosure where buildings cannot. Ideal height to width ratios in the Renaissance Area should be between 1:1 and 1:2 (See Section 9.3.8).
S S Continuous frontage
S S Ideal spatial enclosure for a main street
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