The illustration above imagines you are at home and want to get to dinner at a lovely establishment in your nearby. How does the street layout affect your (yellow) paths to dinner?
A street system is the pattern in which a city’s streets are laid out. This pattern can have a big effect on how it feels to move around in a city.
Two types are discuessed here: grid system, in which streets are laid out in regular (grid) pattern (excetpions here and there allowed); and an artery system, often found in suburbs, in which many roads branch off of one main road.
Grid systems work well in cities for many reasons.
_They allow for multiple routes to a destination. This means if one route is blocked you still have many ways to get where you’re going. In an artery system if something happens on the main “artery” road, everyone is stopped, without a plan B, C or D.
_ Because the pattern is regular it also predictible. This makes navigating the city easier. If something is 6 blocks away, you’ll have a sense of that distance.
_The many intersections created by a grid system means that cars will be stopping more often and driving slower in between stops. This keeps speed in central cities lower, making it a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists.
_Gridded streets create blocks which give a rhythm to a journey. If done at the right scale, this rhythm can make a trip feel shorter than it actually is, which in turn promotes trips on foot or bike. Trips on foot and bike promote health!
_Because the grid gives everyone multiple ways to get where they are going, traffic is more efficiently dispersed amongst many streets. In a suburban artery system everyone has to take the same main road no matter where they are going so traffic can really back up.