San Francisco – November 21, 2014 – Lately Paul Supawanich, an urban planner at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates in San Francisco, has been noticing ads for commercial delivery vehicles in popular magazines. That’s strange enough, in a way, but what’s even odder is that these aren’t your typical 30-foot trucks. He’s seen ads for the Chevy City Express, a 15-foot cargo van, and the Nissan NV Cargo series, with 15- and 20-foot models. At half the size of their bulky predecessors, these new options seem perfectly suited for tight city streets.
“It was like, wow, things have changed,” says Supawanich (a past CityLab contributor). “Something’s different.”
To Supawanich, that seemingly wonky difference in vehicle size could lead to major benefits for pedestrian safety. Whereas big trucks need gigantic intersections to take a turn, going from outside lane to outside lane, smaller cargo vans can hug a corner using much less space. Such a fleet shift could help city street designers implement any number of pedestrian-friendly elements: shorter crosswalks and more median islands, for instance, or curb-extenders that slow down the speed of traffic.
(CityLab, Eric Jaffe)