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Harvard Researches Design for Greener Streets
Starts with Including More Trees

Harvard Researches Design for Greener Streets

This is one of the photos the researchers showed participants of the study. It is a photo of the bike lane on Western Avenue in Allstone, Mass. Notice how the trees separate the cycle track from the street, and the curb seperates the sidewalk from the cycle track.
Photo Credit: Anne Lusk (

An article was published on by Harvard University research scientist Anne Lusk, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, that discusses whether pedestrians and bicyclists, located in the Boston metropolitan area, enjoy having trees, where they preferred the trees to be placed and whether they thought the trees provided any benefits.

In order to collect their data, the researchers showed 836 pedestrians and bicyclists photomontages of the same area they were using, then simply asked them if they liked the images or not, and how effective they thought the trees were.

What they found was that not only did the people surveyed enjoy having trees along their routes, but they actually preferred the location of the trees to be between them and the street. Lusk writes that placing trees in this manner "could greatly improve street environments for all users."

"This is different from current U.S. cycle tracks, which typically are separated from moving cars by white plastic delineator posts, low concrete islands or a row of parallel parked cars," Lusk states.

She concludes the article with a call to action, asking for city planners and urban scholars to develop "climate street guidelines," which would set the standard for design guidance that focuses primarily on the physiological and psychological benefits that a well-designed street could provide to all its users.

"It is time to put equal effort into designing green streets for bicyclists, pedestrians, bus riders and residents who live on transit routes, as well as for drivers," she closes.

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August 23, 2019, 1:45 pm PDT

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