This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

How Phoenix built its streets to protect neighborhoods


If you're like most people, you like to get to your destination as quickly as possible. As much as people love their cars, they hate to be sitting in them in traffic jams, or going slow. They want to get where they need to go as quickly and efficiently as possible, and with the minimum of delay. It just makes sense.

So take a look at the design of Phoenix streets. The main ones are wide and perfectly straight. They have multiple lanes in each direction, and a turn lane in the middle. They are designed to move traffic quickly. Now take a look at the neighborhood streets, and you will see something very different, and done by design.

Most neighborhood streets, like mine in Glendale, curve and twist all over the place. In fact, when I went to look at this house, many years ago, I had difficulty finding it! And aside from the fact that streets that gently curve are more attractive, they also discourage traffic. No one in their right mind would cut through my neighborhood, thinking that it would be faster or easier than using the main street. Every once in a while I see people who hadn't seen the "No Outlet" sign on my street, just turning around.

If you're curious to see how well this type of design works, the next time you are on a main street in Phoenix, exit to a minor street, and then to a neighborhood street. You will find those streets mostly empty, even during busy times on the main streets. Of course, the frustration of having to go the speed limit of 25, and going over speed bumps, slowing down to 15 for schools, and finding that a particular street may not even go through, will have you happily back on the main streets in no time. That's excellence of design. That's Phoenix.


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