The Roadway, Its Residential and Traffic Functions, and Its Participation in Urban Settings

Special Report: The Road, between Networks and Territories
By Antoine Brès

The dual approach to roadway usage for both circulation and residence relies on the recognition of the stop as the interface between mobility and territory.
Two notions, roadside residence and grip, present concrete conditions for the spatial inscription of mobility. They point to the stopping and parking of automobiles, as a grip point and as a condition of the residential/riparian function of the road.
A typology of vehicle stops based on these two notions allows to classify the different spatial devices acting as interfaces between the vehicle and the territory. It offers a new framework for interpreting outer suburban roadside environments by revealing, in particular, the differences between user practices assumed by the designers of parking amenities and actually observed practices.
This new perspective on urbanity should lead to reconsider planning policies related to circulation roadways. The notion of roadside residence helps to enrich the conceptual framework within which roadway improvements are conceived and reduces the ambiguities in the categorization of these roadways – a task which often relies on the more or less rural or urban character of their environment. At the same time, the notion of roadside residence allows us to develop streets, which act simultaneously as travel spaces and as potential places for the development of urban activities dependent on proximity. The car is thus to be considered as a support, acting as a sort of anchor in the local neighborhood instead of merely leading to its deterioration, for which it is too hastily blamed.
In taking the point of view that movement participates in the development of the urban setting by virtue of the stop, this approach suggests that there is a co-production of movement and urbanity; one must simultaneously consider the circulation and the station and act on their intimate overlap. This method replaces an approach based on differentiation and sectorisation, and values union and exchange through closeness and contact.

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