landscape

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Exploring the Landscape of Streetscapes + Transportation Transportation infrastructure exerts a strong organizing influence on urban landscapes and urban design. It is a critical element of society and supports mobility of people and goods. In the U.S., federal/state transportation policy makers, local community planners, as well as entrepreneurial technologists, often have focused on building more roadways, making cars more efficient, and/or promoting new methods of vehicle-sharing. However, there are also a range of issues and challenges associated with our car-centric transportation system. Public transportation- from buses to bike lanes- plays an important role in addressing some of these challenges, as well as providing a critical path to mobility for many residents. This assignment explores your town’s or city’s landscape of transportation and streetscapes by experiencing and reflecting on a journey made with two different transit options. Introduction to Streetscapes First, we will explore the building blocks of streetscape design using the “Urban Street Design Guide1” by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Specifically, take a look at “Streets2,” “Street Design Elements3,” and “Design Controls4.” In each of these sections you will see various street types (single lane streets, boulevards, neighborhood streets, etc.) and the physical elements that comprise the street (traffic lanes, sidewalks, curb extensions, etc.). You learn about existing challenges and recommendations for improving streetscape design. Explore these road typologies and streetscape features so that you will be able to recognize and identify them when you embark upon your trip. 

1 https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/ 

2 https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/streets/ 

3 https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/ 

4 https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/design-controls/

Next, watch the short video on “Streetmix: A Street Section Builder for Activists and Professionals Alike,” then explore the tool, Streetmix.net, which allows you to design and re-design your own streetscapes. You will find these resources useful when you complete the narrative and graphic representation portion of the assignment. Exploring Streetscapes: Design + Experience First, keeping current social distancing guidelines in mind, plan two (2) trips from your home (or other convenient location) to a nearby spot that you would like to visit. You can make your trip using any number of modalities (via car, bicycle, scooter, walking, skateboard, public transit, etc.) and you will document the types of streetscapes you encounter and your experiences through both visual and text description. You will then conduct the same journey using a second mode of transit. Consider selecting a journey that will allow you to explore various types of streetscapes. Feel free to be creative about your travel modality and destination- consider if there is some place you have been curious to travel to and explore! (Again, keeping the current, local social distancing guidelines in mind.) When thinking about how to document your journey, you should consider:

[TRIP #1] 1. Planning. What is your mode of transportation? Where do you plan to start and end? Using the information from the NACTO’s “Urban Street Design Guide,” what are the typologies of streets and streetscapes that you will likely encounter? 2. Design. Observe the location where you start your journey. What is the street type and what is the streetscape like (dimensions, materiality, plantings, condition, etc.)? What is the broader environment like (land use, type/scale of adjacent buildings (if any), microclimate, social atmosphere, etc.)? Does the streetscape design include any ecological features like bioswales, rain gardens, or pervious pavement, etc.? For example, if you are riding the bus, is there clear signage or any comfortable seating? Is the area designed to regulate the outdoor elements? How many people is the space designed to accommodate? Is there a comfortable buffer from traffic? If you are riding your bike or walking, are there adequate sidewalks or bike paths that connect to your starting location? What are the dimensions and conditions of these elements? What are any other important design features of the street? Is there anything lacking (safety elements, climate control elements, etc.) or creating conflict among different transit modalities (lack of crosswalks, insufficient bike lanes, etc.) 3. Movement + Experience. What does the space of transit look like? How long is your trip? What types of streetscapes do you pass through? How does the design of the streetscape impact your experience, such as by creating safety, beauty, “sense of place,” or is it impacted by the lack of these elements? What emotions (if any) does your journey evoke? For example, do you feel comfortable in the width of the bike lane if on a bicycle or comfortable with the speed and volume of other traffic if in a car? 4. Arrival. Where do you stop? What do you do when you disembark? What is the streetscape and environment where you end your trip? Do you end up in a large sprawling parking lot or by a smaller store that has green planters buffering pedestrians from the road? 

[TRIP #2] You will then conduct a second socially-distant journey to the same destination using a different mode of public or private transit and compare the two in terms of user experience, safety, efficiency, etc. Were there features of the streetscape that affected each trip in a different way? 5. Reflection. Using the information from the NACTO’s “Urban Street Design Guide,” describe the typologies of streets and streetscape designs that you encountered. Did the streetscapes include features or best practices that are recommended in the guidebook or not? How did the design elements of the street affect your ease of transit and/or experience? Are there any challenges you faced (or think others might face) that could be addressed by better planning and design of the streets and streetscapes? How do your two journeys compare in terms of trip time, ease of access, user experience, sustainability, or other benefits? Does the streetscape design support one type of travel modality vs. the other? 6. Re-design. What do you think could improve the experience? Could the street or streetscape be designed be more inclusive or equitable? Could there be better consideration of sustainability or promotion of biodiversity? Reflecting on the recommendations from the design guide, how would you potentially re-design any elements of the street or streetscape?

Visual Narrative You will document your trips visually using several medium(s) that will convey 1) your journey, 2) the physical design of streetscapes you encounter, and 3) your experience. - Mapping. First you will create a map of your journey. This can be done with Google Earth, Google Maps, etc. You will want to show and annotate (at minimum) where you started, ended, and your path; you can also add pertinent elements including annotations of street typologies, streetscape features, notable moments of your experience, etc. These maps can be created using the drawing tools in MS PowerPoint, Adobe Illustrator, or another drawing application. - Streetscape Design. You will draw 2 measured cross-sections of the streetscape either at the start or end of your journey (or somewhere in between, if preferred). You can use Google Maps or Google Earth to measure the width of roadways and sidewalks, etc. You can create a section diagram of the streetscapes by hand drawing, using Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop, or the Streetmix.net app. The section should illustrate they type of street, specific physical features, as well as any annotations that help to better describe the space. - Experience. You should photograph (or otherwise record) your journey at key moments from the start to the final destination. You will submit at least 6 images with a short caption or key annotations for each. You can also draw quick sketches, create short videos of your experiences, or record the audio of the journey, etc. Be creative! However, do not take photos while driving!!

Text Narrative Write two (2) single-spaced pages (1,000 words will earn full credit) using proper grammar and complete sentences addressing the above 6 themes and questions. Text should include a short introduction/conclusion and be comprised of paragraphs logically relating to the above questions. You may include references as needed. Deliverables: 1. Write at least two (2) single-spaced pages (1,000 words will earn full credit) that address the above (6) themes using proper grammar and complete sentences. a. Include header (course name, assignment name, date, word count) and your essay title 2. Submit (1) map, (2) measured cross-sections and (6) other images with a short caption or key annotations for each which support the main themes or details included in the narrative. a. Images include a short caption or key annotations for each using complete sentences. b. Think about how the annotations can assist in describing the streetscape design, such as specific elements of the site(s), dimensions/materiality/description of sidewalks or roads, description of trees and other vegetation, other bus riders, cyclists, pedestrians or users of the site; as well as how these elements influenced your experience. c. Again, and most importantly- please do not take photos while driving! 3. Upload the written essay and images as PDFs (or any video or sound files) to the Assignment page on CANVAS using the naming convention: a. LAA1920_Assign01_Text.pdf b. LAA1920_Assign01_Images.pdf c. Do not include your name on the essay, images, or in the file nomenclature as the peer reviews conducted later should be anonymous.

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