Naked Streets are ones stripped of the many motorist-oriented clues such as signage, curbs, and lighting that allow/encourage motorists to speed up (because they create certainty) and which transfer the risk of driving onto pedestrians, cyclists, and adjacent residents.
By removing signs, etc, the motorist is now supposed to have to pay more attention to his surroundings, reading the clues, and adapting behaviour to the specific environment.
I have seen many of these “in action” in Europe. My current opinion is that they may work where pedestrians outnumber motorists, but once there are a fair number of motorists then the cars “push” people off the street to the perimeter zones (provided they aren’t convenient parking spots).
I have been particularly harsh with the Imported From Toronto naked street concept for Sidney and Adeline Streets in the new Preston-Carling realm study. Three 40 storey condo towers, plus a nine storey tower, plus a 18 storey tower (and this still leaves one lot vacant for yet another tower) will all be accessed via the same street, which will have no curbs. This means a car every few seconds at rush hour. Pedestrian sidewalks will be marked out with different colour paving stones, visible at least six months of the year.
Will these really be pedestrian friendly streets?
The new, revitalized Lansdowne Parke urban space has quite a number of these naked streets (in my day, streaking was done on the football field). They will have cars and delivery vehicles accessing the stores and businesses there. And the entrance to the condo garages are off these naked streets.
So how well do pedestrians fare at Lansdowne Parke? Well, even when the new streets are decidedly unbusy, as the stores aren’t open, nor the condos occupied, Ottawa’s finest decided the ideal spot to park their vehicles wasn’t on the unused roadways, but rather RIGHT ON THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALKS.
Naked streets? Pedestrian utopia? Urban Nirvana?