Bright Idea: Reinventing “La Rambla”

Phila Planning Journal

What urban street design technique can provide benefits in terms of traffic calming, economic development, stormwater management, parking, heat island effect, and aesthetics? The answer: “Ramblas.”

Challenged with retrofitting a wide boulevard in a late-19th century railroad town in order to increase pedestrian activity (and hopefully economic vitality), and inspired by “La Rambla” in Barcelona, Moule & Polyzoides transformed Lancaster Boulevard in Lancaster, California into a vibrant commercial corridor. By removing the center turning lane, decreasing the road to one lane in each direction, they were able to create a wide, tree-filled, multi-purpose space in the center and restore some of the street’s downtown character. Some blocks accommodate angled parking in the center area while others are given over completely to pedestrians in the form of attractive parks, public gathering spaces, and outdoor event venue spaces. Some of the other benefits include shortened crosswalks, slower vehicular speeds, and the creation of…

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