The word stroad is a combination of the English words street and road. It was coined by U.S. urban planner and civil engineer Charles Marohn in 2013 to refer to the multi-lane thoroughfares in the suburbs of major American cities that exist in this form in cities around the world.
What is a Stroad? Meaning, explanation, definition
Stroads, according to the American definition, are created whenever residential streets are combined with expressways. While people move briskly on through and wide Roads, Streets are designed for slower speeds. These arterial streets have residential development, many side streets, sidewalks, and opportunities to park cars. The problems only arise when the two street design concepts are combined.
What is the difference between Roads and Streets?
The Road is a high-speed connection, similar to a railroad track, that goes from point A to point B without interruption and in the fastest way. In contrast, the Street (road) has space for buildings on both sides, thus creates opportunities for the integration of values. The Street is created for people who want to and can reach their most important destinations on foot.
To that end, it is (usually) equipped with wide sidewalks. Traffic is much slower and motorists can park on the side edges. Getting from A to B safely is a priority on Streets. These streets are living spaces that people help create and can change their appearance on a daily basis.
Why is the concept of Stroad out of date?
Stroads are streets with the look of highways placed in „street style locations.“ But fast driving and urban quality of life can hardly be reconciled. Building stroads is extremely expensive and inefficient. Traffic experts have calculated that the return on investment (ROI) for stroads is extremely low. So the roads don’t pay for themselves.
In addition, the inner-city expressways are dangerous because pedestrians can hardly pass them. Safety standards on Stroads are very low, as traffic signs are largely geared to the needs of motorists.
To improve the quality of life in cities, it would be time to transform the already existing stroads into pleasant residential streets where people enjoy spending time, instead of wasting even more money on inefficient road construction. However, urban planners around the world still prefer to implement the outdated concept, even though there are many innovative ideas.
What should a successful urban street look like?
As in the U.S., the needs of traffic in Germany usually take precedence over people’s needs for a good living situation. In the Netherlands, new residential street concepts are being successfully implemented. Here, it has proven successful to divide city streets into the categories of inefficient stroad, dangerous (dangerous) city street and the ugly (ugly) city street. The main focus here is on the importance of the street for the residents and not on the traffic function. This classification would also make sense for Germany.
After all, stroads are not only expensive, the excessive traffic on busy streets has a negative impact on the adjacent residential buildings and endangers the health of the residents. People living near stroads are noisy and dirty. Here you can find houses in great need of renovation, which make the streetscape desolate. Inevitably, only low rents can be charged here. However, these are not enough to fundamentally renovate the buildings. It is also almost impossible to meet current energy standards. The negative effect has been intensifying for years and has been known for a long time.
More quality of life in urban areas
All road construction measures should have the goal of realizing an orderly and comprehensible streetscape. In this way, a new categorization can noticeably increase the quality of living and life in the city.
It is a good idea to divide inner-city streets into three categories: expressways, city streets and residential streets. It is of great importance to give more space to pedestrian traffic and, depending on the classification, to set clear construction specifications. Depending on the category, crossings, crosswalks and bike lanes are assigned.
Ideally, the structural design alone will make it possible to identify which type of street it is. If there is a 30 km/h speed limit on streets where people live, this means only slightly longer travel distances, but much more quality of life.
Residential streets could also be defined as traffic-calmed streets or play streets. If people are favored over cars, the streets must also be designed with much more greenery. Urban planners have recognized the signs of the times and are increasingly implementing more contemporary concepts that put people at the center. Nevertheless, there is still much to be done in this area.