Man stepping off the public pus onto the sidewalk

Improve Street Network Connectivity

  • Street network connectivity helps reduce the volume of traffic and traffic delays on major streets (arterials and major collectors), and ultimately improves livability in communities.
  • There is enhanced bicycle and pedestrian travel when the number of street connections or local intersections in communities is increased.
  • A well-connected street network is the traditional grid pattern.
  • Street network connectivity is achieved by providing connections within individual developments, between developments, and by having a well planned collector road network to compliment the arterial highway network.
  • Characteristics of street network connectivity is short block lengths, numerous three and four-way intersections, and minimal dead-ends (cul-de-sacs).

Issue Brief

How Can Cities and Counties Plan for Street Network Connectivity?
A well-connected network has many short links, numerous intersections, and minimal dead-ends. Where a road connection may not make sense, a pedestrian or bicycle connection may still be considered. As connectivity increases, travel distances decrease and route options increase. The result is more direct travel between destinations and a more accessible system.
View the brief.

Best Practice Actions

  1. Cities and towns may implement street network connectivity:
  2. Establish policies, programs, and statutes:

Benefits of Improving Street Network Connectivity

  • Street connectivity redistributes traffic across an entire street network.
  • Connected local streets help keep local trips off arterial streets and reduce the need for widening and construction improvements on collector or arterial streets.
  • Highly connected grids are cheaper to build and maintain making them more economical by:
    • Getting better value out of every street.
    • Not having to build for high-speed traffic.
    • Not creating congested choke points.
  • Increased connectivity provides for different modes of travel besides automobiles.
  • By linking sidewalks, paths, bicycle lanes, and streets, destination distances become shorter, thereby potentially increasing trips by walking, bicycling, or transit.
  • A network of streets, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and paths that connect to each other also reduce the distance children have to travel from home to school. It also allows for the use of more local streets rather than major roadways and provides a greater choice of routes to travel to and from school safely.

Tools & Resources

Increased Street Connectivity Improves Public Health Outcomes
Land Use Impacts on Transport
Victoria Transport Policy Institute
Street Connectivity vs. Street Widening
University of Utah
Creating More Connected Roadway and Pathway Networks
VTPI
Effects of Local Street Connectivity on Arterial Traffic
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Model Street Connectivity Standards Ordinance
WSDOT
Smart Growth Streets and Emergency Response
EPA
Safe Routes To School-Connectivity
Safe Routes
Measuring Network Connectivity for Bicycling and Walking
Portland State University
Street Connectivity and Active Transportation
California Health Interview
Improving Connectivity and System Function through Local Planning, Publication 731
Measures of Street Connectivity: Spatialist Lines (MoSC)
University of Thessaly
Performance Measures, Community Engagement, and Urban Street Design
MIT
Using GIS to Measure Connectivity
Portland State University
Traffic Analysis Tools - Sketch Planning
Montana DOT
Connectivity Evaluation Resources
Federal Highway Administration
Green Tools
King County
Smart Location Mapping
EPA
WalkScore
Smart Growth Streets and Emergency Response
EPA
Smart Growth in Small Towns and Rural Communities
EPA
Complete Streets Work in Rural Communities
Smart Growth America
Washington State Freight Economic Corridors
WSDOT
USDOT Connectivity
U.S. Department of Transportation


PDF

Yessler Terrace – Seattle, Washington

Yesler Terrace near downtown Seattle was developed in the early 1940s as the city’s first publicly subsidized housing community. In 2006, when it had become evident that Yesler’s infrastructure and housing units needed to be replaced, conversations ensued. In 2013, the revitalization of Yesler Terrace began and now includes a new streetcar line through Yesler connecting the community to a regional transportation system.


Share your example of a transportation efficient community.