Here's a new idea for the city planners' street design toolbox: The oasis greenway, equal parts street, bikeway, parking lot, and public park.
Oasis greenways are shared streets that cars, bikes, and pedestrians all use at the same time, at low speed. They're similar to Dutch woonerfs, but more park-like, with green space added in place of hard pavement, using things like grassy permeable pavers.
By slowing down car traffic and repaving the street with grassy pavers, greenways become ideal places for people to walk, bike, or even for children to play. Car parking may actually get easier, since diagonal parking can replace parallel parking. High speed car traffic uses other nearby streets instead.
Oasis greenways obviously can't replace every street, but they can replace some small local ones, particularly those with a lot of bike traffic, or those with a lot of children. In a way, they combine the connectivity of an urban street grid with the haven of a suburban cul-de-sac, providing the benefits of both.
One obvious place where oasis greenways might make sense in the US is on streets currently designed as bike boulevards, like the two local streets parallel to Columbia Pike in Arlington. Greenways use a lot of the same tricks to slow down cars as bike boulevards, but kicked up a notch to be even more effective.
Do you think these are a good idea? Where would you like to see one tried out?