How to Fix America's Worst Streets: Transforming Dangerous Suburban Arterial Roads

Suburban arterial roads, often referred to as "stroads," are notorious for being some of the most hazardous in urban networks. These roads are a hybrid of streets and roads, designed to accommodate fast-moving vehicles while also serving as commercial and residential areas. This dual purpose makes them perilous for pedestrians and cyclists, who often have limited facilities. However, with the right strategies, these dangerous streets can be transformed into safe, efficient, and livable spaces.

Understanding the Problem with Stroads

Stroads are designed for speed but function as local streets, creating a conflict between vehicle flow and local access. Here are the primary issues:

  1. High Speeds: Vehicles travel at high speeds, increasing the risk of severe accidents.
  2. Limited Pedestrian Infrastructure: Sidewalks, if present, are often narrow and poorly maintained.
  3. Lack of Bike Lanes: Cyclists are forced to share the road with fast-moving traffic, making it dangerous for biking.
  4. Poor Crosswalks: Crosswalks are scarce and poorly marked, putting pedestrians at risk when crossing.

Steps to Fix Stroads

  1. Reduce Speed Limits: Lowering speed limits is a crucial first step. It reduces the severity of accidents and makes the environment safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Implementing speed cameras and increased enforcement can ensure compliance.

  2. Add Pedestrian Infrastructure:

    • Wider Sidewalks: Expand sidewalks to accommodate more foot traffic and ensure they are well-maintained.
    • Crosswalks: Increase the number of crosswalks, make them highly visible, and add pedestrian signals for safer crossing.
  3. Implement Dedicated Bike Lanes: Creating protected bike lanes separated from vehicle traffic encourages cycling and ensures cyclist safety. These lanes should be clearly marked and maintained to promote regular use.

  4. Improve Public Transit Access: Enhancing public transit options can reduce the number of cars on the road. Adding bus lanes, improving bus stops, and ensuring timely service can make public transit a more attractive option.

  5. Traffic Calming Measures: Incorporate traffic calming measures such as speed humps, roundabouts, and curb extensions. These features slow down traffic and enhance safety for all road users.

  6. Mixed-Use Zoning: Encourage mixed-use zoning to reduce the need for long commutes. When residential, commercial, and recreational areas are close together, people are more likely to walk or bike instead of drive.

Using Streetmix for Planning

Streetmix is an excellent tool for visualizing and planning street improvements. It allows users to create cross-sections of streets, adding elements like bike lanes, sidewalks, and bus lanes. Planners, community members, and officials can use Streetmix to experiment with different configurations and find the best solutions for their specific needs.


Fixing America's worst streets requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes safety, accessibility, and efficiency. By reducing speed limits, adding pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, improving public transit, and using tools like Streetmix for planning, we can transform dangerous stroads into safe, vibrant community spaces. This transformation not only enhances safety but also promotes a healthier, more sustainable urban environment.

Embracing these changes can lead to safer, more livable suburban areas, ensuring that all road users can navigate their communities with ease and confidence. Let's take the steps necessary to fix America's worst streets and create a brighter, safer future for everyone.