Street Design and Emergency Response Initiative

Your Input Is Needed

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We are seeking your input on research ideas to support a new collaborative effort on smart growth streets and emergency response. The project aims to provide solutions for communities developing pedestrian friendly neighborhood streets. These designs typically emphasize more narrow and interconnected street networks. While this creates better pedestrian environments and reduces storm water runoff, it raises concerns with fire officials about impacts on emergency response operations. Recognizing this concern, many communities have worked with fire officials to adopt street design strategies that do not compromise response times or building access. Additionally, many older communities with narrow residential streets have a long history of addressing such issues. Despite the existence of such solutions, widespread adoption of more flexible standards is lacking.

This effort, which began in January, will advance solutions at a national scale by:

  1. Documenting innovative designs that address emergency responder needs;
  2. Identifying areas where more research is needed to understand the performance of alternative street designs; and
  3. Supporting new research to quantify the public safety implications of alternative street designs.

At this stage we are casting the net broadly for input in all three areas. In particular, we hope that practitioners and researchers who have been engaged with this issue on the ground can help articulate the following elements of the research agenda:

  • Whom should the research aim to educate? To what end?
  • How could research broaden the base of knowledge on smart streets and public safety and/or emergency responsiveness?
  • What specific research premise or practice does the proposal build upon?
  • Does the research support improved livability in communities?
  • To what degree does it support local or state initiatives facilitate the adoption of narrower streets within smart growth developments?

Please briefly present your ideas in 2-3 paragraphs per proposed idea. All research ideas will be compiled and discussed by the core project stakeholders. Even though work has already begun, please keep sending your suggestions to Jon Davis at CNU (

We look forward to hearing from you.