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Top Ten Smart Growth Principles


Most of our roadways only address one mode of travel. Albuquerque, NM

1. Transportation systems should serve all three elements of mobility: access (local movement), circulation (movement between neighborhoods and commercial areas), and travel (regional movement).

Most public transportation investment today is far too focused on serving travel at the expense of balanced mobility. 


Roadway network planning is critical to multimodal access. Basalt, CO

2. A well-connected network of narrow streets provides better mobility and is safer and more efficient than a poorly-connected network of wide streets. The inexorable widening of arterials represents a bad investment. Freeways have a role to play; multi-lane arterials (more than four general purpose lanes) normally do not.




Narrow streets embrace the architecture of the buildings. Marblehead, MA

3. The design of streets should reflect the scale and character of abutting and nearby land uses. It is rarely justifiable to build a street or roadway that detracts from the value of, or forces undesirable changes in, abutting land uses.




Planning for street networks is critical to traffic distribution. Portland, OR

4. Traffic forecasting is of limited value in designing streets. Virtually all of the details of street network and facility design should be based on planned community form and desired character of abutting land uses. Basing street design on traffic demand forecasts is self-fulfilling and self-defeating.








Transit serves a wide range of transportation needs. Boulder, CO

5. Public transit systems improve personal travel choices and economic vitality. Flexible mobility is a realistic transit objective; reduced traffic congestion is not. Good transit service increases mobility; it generally does not reduce vehicular traffic.




Studies show school children rarely walk or bike to school for safety concerns. Louisville, CO

6. High quality walking and bicycling environments enable active living, which improves community and individual health and well being. This represents the largest category of unmet mobility demand in virtually all North American communities.




Multimodal corridors need to be planned and phased. Boulder, CO

7. Streets are the principal infrastructure for all modes. Developing a multimodal transportation system requires investments in streets. Corridor “improvement” projects that ignore the multimodal functions of streets are irresponsible.










Automobile access and parking are vital to multimodal options. Santa Fe, NM

8. The most sustainable transportation systems are those that enable families and individuals to minimize daily vehicle miles of travel, while at the same time enabling them to maximize the benefits of personal motor vehicle ownership. Sustainable transportation is not about ending our “love affair with the automobile.” In fact, it can reinvigorate the joys of auto ownership.



The public expects a well managed interactive process when talking about transportation. Redmond, WA

9. Good transportation planning requires the direct, committed and continuing involvement of a broad cross section of empowered community members. This is expensive, time-consuming and difficult. However, it also is essential.






After the public participates in the project they want results. Redmond, WA

10. Successful development and management of transportation systems requires routine public monitoring and reporting of system performance based on community objectives. Community support for progressive transportation requires unambiguous honesty and accountability about the condition of the transportation system and about the effectiveness of the public transportation program.

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