Benefits and Risks of Urban Roadside Landscape: Finding a Livable Balanced Response

By Kathleen Wolf and Karen Dixon
Seattle, WA (June 25, 2007)- Placement of trees and landscape features within the urban right-of-way is often perceived by transportation officials as a safety risk. Conversely, there are many community benefits that may result from having roadside landscape, and advocates of urban forestry encourage roadside plantings. Within urban environments transportation mobility and accessibility needs should be balanced with urbanites’ health and welfare.


This paper reviews the many issues surrounding urban roadside landscape. It summarizes both the quantified effects of roadside landscape and proposed researchable questions that could aid communities in pursuing the balance of transportation quality and urban livability.
Topics include urban forest benefits in communities, studies of trees and traffic safety, landscape affects concerning traffic calming, self-enforcing streets, and street design. The authors provide a multidisciplinary perspective on this topic; one represents traffic engineering and the second is active in urban forestry planning and design. They collectively present the diverse issues concerning the placement of living, fixed objects adjacent to the urban roadway.
The paper reports the best available science on this often controversial topic, offers suggestions for ways to evaluate the safety impact of urban trees and landscape, and suggests workable solutions for tree and landscaping placement that address safety concerns of transportation professionals and integrate the interests and values of urban communities.
Related Resources:
Benefits and Risks of Urban Roadside Landscape: Finding a Livable Balanced Response
Benefits and Risks of Urban Roadside Landscape: Finding a Livable Balanced Response- Presentation
Research on Human Dimensions of Urban Greening
Oregon State University