If you spend enough time roaming around the urban planning internets, you’ll probably find a few articles about how SUVs and pickup trucks are getting taller and more square in order to feed the macho American ego, and that this is leading to higher pedestrian deaths. A couple of good examples can be found here and here. I’m not going to argue with that narrative or that problematic truck owners don’t exist. Instead, I’m going to say that the majority of truck and SUV owners are simply using their tools in a very different context than they were intended, and urban design needs to change to fix that.

Trucks: What are they good for?

Cars: What are they good for?

Cargo bikes are much safer, efficient, and community friendly than even the smallest automobile. This leads me to the crux of my argument: Automobiles, buses, bikes, and feet are transportation tools, and we have been using them wrong.

Quick Primer: The Stroad

  • High speed (40–55 mph speed limit)
  • Lots of access points
  • Multiple highway-width lanes
  • If there are sidewalks, they’re inadequate and uncomfortable places for people to be
  • Long distances between pedestrian crossings

Stroads are built with the intention of both providing opportunities for development and businesses and “efficient” travel between places.

Stroads are for Cars, Cars are Stroady

Planners should be counting the trend of increased truck ownership as a win. Driving a big vehicle in the streets portion of a city is a pain. Parking garage stalls on their own should be enough of a deterrent to discourage driving. This is because trucks and SUVs are built for roads, not streets. As I said before, they’re great for road trips. That high, blunt front end that is terrible for pedestrians is an important safety feature if the tool is being used properly. Replace the pedestrian with a deer and the design that is intended to send the obstacle down and under the vehicle instead of through the windshield makes a lot more sense.

More Streets and Roads

Urban planner and data nerd. Feel free to hire me: https://brianparkerresume.herokuapp.com/