Image by Dan Burden via pedbikeimages.org, used with permission.

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.

Image by Tom Bertulis.

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?

Ray Atkinson is the Transportation Issues Chair for the Mount Vernon Group of the Sierra Club. He was raised in a Kannapolis, NC home that has a Walk Score of 0. He has a BS in Geography from UNC Charlotte and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University. He studied abroad in Denmark and the Netherlands. He has a blog and lives car-free in Ballston.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post .