Trees On Streets Equals Bliss To All

Tree lined streets are a green oasis

 

I do not think people value the worth and amenity of tree-lined streets whether in a residential or commercial as highly as they should.

From Strong Towns:

THE MAGIC OF TREE-LINED STREETS

It’s time to talk about trees.

Why?  Because I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where it’s currently 96 degrees Fahrenheit with 50% humidity, resulting in a heat index of 109 degrees. This is just a scientific way to say that it’s hotter than hell-fired habaneros out there.  And to be frank, nobody cares about walkable urbanism when they’re sweating through their clothes.

 

MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN GO OUT IN THE MIDDAY SUN…

A few days ago, despite the soaring temperatures, I decided to run a couple errands.  Since both trips were within a mile and a half of my house, I hopped on my bike.  For the first mile or so, I was able to cut through neighborhoods where mature trees shaded my route.  With the shade and a nice breeze, the ride was amazingly comfortable.  “This isn’t so bad,” I thought, casually dismissing all the heat warnings I’d heard earlier in the day.

Unfortunately, my sanguine attitude evaporated the moment I emerged from the sanctuary of a shaded neighborhood into a treeless, asphalt furnace.

No disrespect to Joan of Arc, but at least if you get burned at the stake, it’s a dry heat.  This was more like being boiled.  And then fried.  If you built a sauna inside a kiln, it would feel something like this street.

 

………

 

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE URBAN STREET TREE

Our ancestors, who hadn’t yet invented air-conditioning or automobiles, understood this.  They knew that city building and tree planting went hand in hand.  Thus, long before the introduction of zoning codes, cities passed laws requiring trees to be planted along the public rights-of-way.

 

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When it comes to creating tree canopies, many obstacles are enshrined in public policy.  Zoning codes apply to private property, not the city’s right-of-way, so required trees are often set back too far from the street to create a pleasing pedestrian environment.  Engineering standards require clear sight lines next to the road, which prevents street trees from being located where they are most effective.  And the local power company recommends planting short, ornamental trees near power lines, which, all too often, are located along arterial streets.  Together, these rules eliminate the possibility of creating or restoring a tree canopy that would benefit pedestrians and cyclists throughout the city.

 

BEYOND PEDESTRIAN COMFORT: STREET TREES AND THE BOTTOM LINE

We have a long way to go to replace what has been lost.  But we have to keep working because street trees make places more walkable and bikeable and beautiful.  All of which should be reason enough to fight for better streetscaping.

But there are myriad other ways in which street trees benefit cities and individuals alike. Among the most important to municipalities are significantreductions in stormwater runoff; improved air quality and reductions in greenhouse gases like ozone and carbon dioxide; improved pedestrian and driver safety; and higher taxes resulting from increased property values and commercial sales.

Street trees working their magic in Tulsa, OK.  Photo by Daniel Jeffries

To achieve these benefits, we need to take trees seriously.  Especially in urban areas, you can’t just stick a tree in the ground and expect it to prosper.  For cities interested in maximizing their return on investment of street trees, the EPA has created a guide focused on design considerations that will allow street trees to survive and thrive well into maturity.

Whether you care about the environment, energy savings, property values, public health, or your city’s bottom line–plant a tree by the street.  You’ll make sweaty cyclists and pedestrians happy for generations to come.

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Source and photos: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/6/26/the-magic-of-tree-lined-streets-1

 

Auckland has a good urban forest system although it needs to be protected and strengthened as the City intensifies under the Unitary Plan. It is also a reason why if golf courses are to be decommissioned they should be turned into urban forest parks acting as green lungs and wildlife refuges. We use to do this in the past putting aside land for urban forests but have been slacking off of recent.

 

In Cities Skylines I make an emphasis to have both tree-lined streets and urban forests littered throughout the urban landscape. Not only because it looks pretty but it drives up amenity while creating refuge for both animals and people alike.

 

 

So come on let’s keep our City green for ALL our sakes.

 

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