Putting the Pleasure Back in the Drive: Reclaiming Urban Parkways for the 21st Century
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Studying the history and current troubles of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, which connects Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles, will bring to light a nationwide parkway problem. Like many parkways, the Arroyo Seco began in the pre-World War II era when transportation needs and traffic patterns were vastly different than they are today. In the tradition of East Coast parkways that featured wide, gently curving roads and were surrounded by landscaped areas-themselves inspired by the wide boulevards of Paris and Berlin-the Arroyo Seco was designed for pleasurable drives at moderate speeds. The parkway was an early success, but over the years, area growth has led to extreme traffic congestion. Designers intended the parkway to accommodate only 27,000 vehicles per day at 45 mph, but today it carries over 130,000 automobiles at much higher speeds, making the parkway one of the least safe routes in the region. But there is hope for Arroyo Seco and other parkways that face similar problems. In the field of transportation policy there has been increased interest in aesthetics, restoration, environmental factors and traffic calming. Parkways could benefit from this trend and return to their original state as pleasant, enjoyable travel routes.