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CU Denver study finds serious challenges to 'New Urbanist' communities
Date:6/10/2014

DENVER (June 10, 2014) As New Urbanist communities expand nationwide, a study from the University of Colorado Denver shows the increasing challenges of balancing complex traffic engineering systems with the ideals of walkable, sustainable neighborhoods.

As a leading public research university located in the urban core, CU Denver researchers have ample opportunity to connect their work to the city of Denver and surrounding communities. This study focused on Denver's Stapleton neighborhood, one of the largest New Urbanist developments in the nation, specifically examining its street network, street design and intersections.

"I was investigating the inconsistencies of what was built with respect to the latest research and state-of-the-art New Urbanist thinking," said study author Wesley Marshall, PhD, PE, assistant professor of civil engineering at CU Denver College of Engineering and Applied Science. "The deviations from the standard model of New Urbanism were then considered in terms of how people are actually using the system, by way of vehicle speed studies and travel diaries."

Marshall said Stapleton, like similar developments, began with a set of guiding principles but made compromises due to competing conventional traffic engineering standards.

One of those principles relies on narrow streets to restrict travel speeds for increased safety. Yet while on-street parking is a New Urbanist tool to slow traffic and buffer pedestrians, it isn't as effective in Stapleton since most homes come with mandated off-street parking, the study said.

"Underutilized on-street parking has been shown by various researchers to be associated with higher vehicle speeds as well as higher crash rates," Marshall said. "Even where on-street parking is well used, many of Stapleton's residential streets are still too wide; as a result, unsafe vehicle speeds are the norm."

Stapleton's street network also includes two overly-wide
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Contact: David Kelly
david.kelly@ucdenver.edu
303-503-7990
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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