Baltimore fire code eased to allow bike lanes, more flexible design

On Aug 6, Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to approve a bill that repeals parts of the city fire code to allow for more bike-friendly and pedestrian-safe street developments. Although the bill still awaits Mayor Catherine Pugh’s signature, a mayoral spokesperson said on August 20 that they do not anticipate a veto. The legislation will repeal the section of the fire code that requires 20- and 26- foot clearances for fire access, and will be replaced by more flexible NACTO guidelines.

Cities and airports look to develop best practices for rideshare pick-ups and drop-offs

As the demand for ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft is exploding in many U.S. cities, pick-ups and drop-offs in high-traffic locations with limited curb space can create safety and congestion concerns for passengers, drivers and other street users such as bicyclists. Cities are beginning to experiment with solutions by creating dedicated zones for pick up and drop off of passengers.

Return of the Barnes Dance

Cities across the U.S. are once again installing a formerly-common intersection treatment: the “Barnes Dance” or pedestrian scramble, which allows pedestrian movements in all directions simultaneously, including diagonally. A new installation in Washington, D.C., demonstrates both the advantages and limitations of this solution to facilitate pedestrian movement in dense urban areas.

Death by a thousand trucks: Managing urban freight congestion

As urban residents place orders for online goods with increasing frequency, the challenge of managing urban freight deliveries grows. City street networks—designed for transit, walking, and biking—are unable to handle this level of freight traffic. Cities, freight haulers, and developers will need to develop new policies and land use strategies to manage this inflow of truck traffic as the retail economy continues to shift to an online/delivery paradigm.

Fire codes threaten to undo urban street design

A local debate over on-street parking in Florida typifies how codes and standards can obstruct walkable urban street design and, apparently, put those designs in jeopardy even after they have been implemented. Celebration is a traditional-style development, however, the design of its streets is being challenged by local officials who say they aren’t wide enough.