This road is killing America

Katelyn Burns
3 min readAug 31, 2022
A stroad in Myrtle Beach, SC. Credit: Payton Chung (Flickr)

Seemingly every town and city in North America has one of these roads. Four or six lanes across, the road is lined with everything from self storage units, to car dealerships, to drive thru fast food. There are traffic lights every five hundred feet and cars are constantly turning in and out of the road, with their drivers sometimes stuffing handfuls of fries into their mouths.

There’s usually sidewalks on these streets, but curiously no pedestrians. Everyone in town has to go down this road at least once a week because the local supermarket, surrounded by several acres of parking lots, is always on this street.

It’s a street, with local commercial destinations, but it’s also a road that is supposed to connect you at high speed to the next town. Sometimes an entire town’s commercial base on one of these street/roads. These motorways are called stroads because they try to be both a street and a road at the same time and fail miserably at both.

Generally, America (and other parts of the world) make two types of roads that are very safe: highways and streets.

Highways and roads are designed to get you from one town to the next at high speeds. They have roomy lanes, wide shoulders, and sweeping, gentle turns that signal to drivers that they can drive fast.

Streets are designed to be travelled at low speed to maximize local access to homes and businesses for people. That last bit is important, streets are designed for people, not drivers. Streets are intentionally complex environments where drivers must pay attention to many things at once, pedestrians, other cars, cyclists, and even their destination.

Stroads are big, wide, roomy roads, lined with hundreds or driveways for businesses and even houses sometimes. Author and (former?) engineer Charles Marohn explained in his book “Confessions of a Recovering Engineer” that the wide lanes and smooth turns of a stroad lull a driver into thinking they can drive faster and less attentively, as they would on a highway. But in actuality, the stroad…

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Katelyn Burns

Political journalist. The first openly trans Capitol Hill reporter in US history. Writing about more than just trans issues. Follow her on Twitter @transscribe