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Thread: Should cities convert one-way streets to two way?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Should cities convert one-way streets to two way?

    Article today on Planetizen http://ti.org/vaupdate30.html

    Personally, I'm not a big fan of the conversion of one-way streets to two-way streets. Usually they don't take into account public transportation or a truck's turning radius (striping issues), loading and unloading trucks, etc.. Here in downtown Buffalo they have converted a few streets to 2-way and I don't think they've had the overall positive effect that many proponents have claimed. Oh and the claim that they'll help bring downtown business back .
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


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    Well, at the same time, weren't many one-way street pairs originally two-way streets?

    I agree with you that they are no panacea, but one-way streets are quite intimidating to pedestrians because they encourage rapid through traffic flow.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    I agree with you that they are no panacea, but one-way streets are quite intimidating to pedestrians because they encourage rapid through traffic flow.
    I seem to have more trouble crossing the street at a roundabout than at a signalized intersection of one-way streets IMO.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


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  4. #4

    One-way is far better for pedestrians

    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Well, at the same time, weren't many one-way street pairs originally two-way streets?

    I agree with you that they are no panacea, but one-way streets are quite intimidating to pedestrians because they encourage rapid through traffic flow.
    I never bought this - the best cities in the world for pedestrians are full of one-way streets. Crossing a two-way street is far more dangerous than crossing two one-way streets (more turning movements conflicting with pedestrians), and vehicles turning into driveways off of two-way streets creates additional conflict hazards ("look - a small gap in oncoming traffic; I'd better gun it! OOPS, there's a pedestrian").

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    One way streets can contribute to a decline in retail business, especially when that business relies on traffic during certain hours. A coffee or donut shop wants to catch people on their way to the place (work?) where they will eat their donut or spill their coffee. A laundramat would want to be on the going-home side of the street so that people can drop off their coffee-stained jackets on the way home from work. Besides that, they would like to see traffic moving more slowly, and having the time to read their signs.
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  6. #6
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    One way streets are only for cars. They carry high volumes of traffic faster than two way streets. As such, they are usually less coplimentary to adjoining residential or business uses. Speed, noise, and danger to pedestrians from higher speed traffic are issues.

    In a business area, one way streets don't allow you to "go around the block" if you miss your destination.

    There are a couple of exceptions. In a congested downtown, the congestion can keep speeds so low that the one way street allows decent access to parking ans businesses.

    Second exception is traffic calmed streets which slow traffic to a point that it is benign to adjoining residential or commercial uses. But at that point, you have negated the original reason for a one-way street (high volume and fast speeds).

  7. #7
    Two way traffic calms traffic better than one-way systems do.
    We have a substantial one-way pattern in our downtown and now that there is riverboat gambling nearby, we've seen an exponential increase in "wrong-way" tickets being issued, as well as the number of collisions (still thankfully small).

    The biggest obstacle for us to restoring the two-way systems is the cost of signalization.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    We keep making more streets one-way. Visitors can find it a little tricky to navigate around the city, but you get used to it.

    In my experience, one way streets are safer for pedestrians crossing. But I'm talking about only one or two laned streets. We tend to combine conversion to one-way with widening of sidewalks.

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    Quote Originally posted by doinky
    I never bought this - the best cities in the world for pedestrians are full of one-way streets. Crossing a two-way street is far more dangerous than crossing two one-way streets (more turning movements conflicting with pedestrians), and vehicles turning into driveways off of two-way streets creates additional conflict hazards ("look - a small gap in oncoming traffic; I'd better gun it! OOPS, there's a pedestrian").

    But, are many of the streets in these cities 40 mph four lane throughways? We aren't talking cuite European one-lane wide alleys here.

  10. #10

    Sorry, I don't buy it

    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    But, are many of the streets in these cities 40 mph four lane throughways? We aren't talking cuite European one-lane wide alleys here.
    The streets we talk about in my town are 25 mph roadways (faster near the freeways) and are perfectly fine as one-way streets. There are enough existing 2-way streets in the area that can be viewed that prove the point that a significant number of additional conflicts are created when drivers attempt to go through a gap in oncoming traffic to turn into a driveway.

    The city is Austin, TX

    An example of a problematic 2-way street is Lamar Blvd near 5th and 6th Sts (both of which have been proposed for 2-way conversion).

    It's far far FAR safer to be crossing 5th/6th at Guadalupe or Lavaca (a one-way couplet which carries similarly large amounts of traffic as Lamar).

    - MD
    Last edited by doinky; 17 Feb 2005 at 5:44 PM.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I've always felt that our public works department did a phenominal job of managing traffic in my community.. and I say that in a very uncomplimentary way.

    Our main one way pair is two 4-lane roads with posted limits of 35 mph through the downtown but because of roadway width and the number lanes. Traffic frequently is in the 40-45 mph range.

    In my opinion...one way pairs are inhospitable to pedestrians, visitors, and retail.
    the southwest bound 4 lanes of one way traffic.

    The northeast bound 4-lanes of one way traffic
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    I've always felt that our public works department did a phenominal job of managing traffic in my community.. and I say that in a very uncomplimentary way.

    Our main one way pair is two 4-lane roads with posted limits of 35 mph through the downtown but because of roadway width and the number lanes. Traffic frequently is in the 40-45 mph range.

    In my opinion...one way pairs are inhospitable to pedestrians, visitors, and retail.
    the southwest bound 4 lanes of one way traffic.

    The northeast bound 4-lanes of one way traffic

    Vrooom! Did we miss downtown, Mabel? I don't know. I didn't see an off-ramp sign

  13. #13
          mentarman's avatar
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    Wow, I guess a lot depends on the width of the road. The one-ways around here are pretty much two lanes wide and right downtown where the canyon effect and other traffic (pedestrian and vehicle) keeps things slower. But I can see how a 4, 5, 6 lane wide one-way would encourage drivers to speed.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    One way streets can contribute to a decline in retail business, especially when that business relies on traffic during certain hours. A coffee or donut shop wants to catch people on their way to the place (work?) where they will eat their donut or spill their coffee. A laundramat would want to be on the going-home side of the street so that people can drop off their coffee-stained jackets on the way home from work. Besides that, they would like to see traffic moving more slowly, and having the time to read their signs.
    A couple of years ago, the Appleton City Council decided to turn as much of its two one-way street couplets back into two way. The east-west (Lawrence and Washington Streets, located on either side of College Ave, the main street) pair has turned out to be a major benefit to the downtown area and has made it much, much easier to get around.

    The north-south pair, OTOH (Morrison-Oneida and Appleton Streets) has been, IMHO, a disaster. The northbound side (Morrison and Oneida, as there is a one-block shift in the middle of it) is still one-way northbound, but most of Appleton St (the southbound side) was returned to two way. I said most, because the part from one half block north of College Ave northward through the crossover to Oneida St (and on to the city's north side via two-way Oneida St) is now two-way while the rest, from that halfway point southward a couple of blocks to the Oneida Skyline Bridge over the Fox River valley, is still one-way southbound. It comes over as being a very 'Rube Goldbergish' setup and since the main part that was returned to two-way was converted from two lanes southbound with parking on both sides to one lane each way with a center-left turn lane and no parking, at least one buisness (an old established local independant pizza restaurant) has been forced to relocate out of the downtown area because their customers could no longer conveniently park in front of their business.

    I would have kept that pair 100% one-way.

    Mike

  15. #15
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    One way streets can contribute to a decline in retail business, especially when that business relies on traffic during certain hours. A coffee or donut shop wants to catch people on their way to the place (work?) where they will eat their donut or spill their coffee. A laundramat would want to be on the going-home side of the street so that people can drop off their coffee-stained jackets on the way home from work. Besides that, they would like to see traffic moving more slowly, and having the time to read their signs.
    Cardinal, this is off topic I know, but do you or anyone else out there know if sign size has any correlation to traffic speed? We are currently working on our sign ordinance and your post got me curious.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I think there are some statistics that dictate the appropriate size of lettering that can be read from a given distance at a certain speed. I'm not sure where to go for that information. I don't know of any studies to determine if sign size encourages a certain speed.
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  17. #17
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    My experince with one-ways streets is similar to what boiker showed, but not as extreme or detrimental.

    In downtown Ann Arbor two of the secondary downtown arterials were made into a couplet of northbound and southbound one-ways which (I guess) help cars move more easily thorugh the edge of downtown, acting as auto commuter exits from downtown. They work fairly well, because they are not the main downtown commercial streets (the main one is two-way with on-street parking and wide sidewalks)

    They seem to work pretty well, but are really not a good pedestrian enivronment (no on-street parking buffer, etc.), but the main reason they are not good pedestrian areas is more due to the surrounding streetscape which is a relatively shabby corridor of mixed student residential and office uses between the two main commercial areas (Main Street and State Street)

    Now for downtown Chicago, the one-ways are definitely necessary, because the volume of traffic would be too much for all two-ways and would gridlock the Loop.

    One-ways in older city or first-ring residential neighborhoods (especially when the streets are about three cars wide) make sense because is allows for greater on-street parking and less traffic conflicts.

    So.....the need to convert one-ways to two-ways depends on the location within the municipality and the affect that they have on commerce, pedestrians, traffic volume, traffic speeds, etc.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  18. #18
    I think it is good policy to eliminate one way streets when possible. They are only needed for very narrow streets and in situations with extreme high volume (NYC is one of the few cities which qualifies for the latter, NYC probably could not function without its one way flow)

    Buffalo certainly does not have the traffic volume downtown to justify one way streets.

    We concentrate too much on moving traffic at high speeds. There are other things which are important in our environment which have nothing to do with the speed of traffic. Once we realize that cars are not the solution to ALL problems we will be able to build decent cities again.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian GISgal's avatar
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    The City of Waukesha, WI ,a city with an organic downtown because the Fox River runs through its center, improved their downtown by:
    1. removing a gazebo from the center of a 6-way stop (thus making people try find their way out of the labyrinth)
    2. turning most of their streets from one-way back to two-way
    3. removing the parking meters (all parking is now free)

    It has revitalized much of their downtown from the red light district it had been turning into by removing obstacles that made it difficult to navigate.
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    A few observations on 1 way streets.

    Residential neighbourhood.

    My curent neighbourhood is a warren of one way streets. i really like it. Due to how narrow the streets are and the fact that we have on street parking, a 2 way street would not be possible. Fortunately, my street is one way off of the major collector to my house so it is super convenient.

    On Commercial areas

    The NB city I worked for had them in the commercial areas. In one, it was the defining feature of the neighbourhood and forced you to move through space at a really slow pace as there was parking on both sides of the street and it was supr narrow. In teh other it was a one way street around a central square, so once again it defined the area and was slowed by angle parking that you drove into and backed out of, into traffic.

    In TO there are a few downtown that promote the speeding mentality, but feel fine in most areas for pedestrians.
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    ok, so the reasons to support one-way streets are:

    One-ways are needed when narrow right of ways can't accomodate parking and two-lanes of traffic.
    One-ways carry high volumes and are effective at getting traffic in, out and through areas quickly.
    One-ways can be safer because of fewer possible traffic movements


    support two way?
    Two-ways provide more consistant traffic levels throughout the day and allow traffic to be dispersed thoroughout the system.
    Two-ways cause traffic to slow down.
    Two-ways add directional redundancy to the system
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    Buffalo certainly does not have the traffic volume downtown to justify one way streets.
    Really. So they all should be converted to two-way then? Sure traffic is not as crazy is it probally was 30-50 years, but the volumes have been constant over the last decade.

    Some streets should (and have) been converted to 2-way such as Washington St. Others such as Huron St should have been left alone due to the short blocks. Franklin was converted a couple years back and is now causing problems for E-W streets (bus routes and HV turning radius which is the case on Huron). There is talk of converting Pearl St into a 2-way which would be a big mistake due to the amont of delivery trucks along certian blocks, as well as it's purpose as a major arterial.

    Off-topic:
    The real problem in Downtown Buffalo is that everybody expects to park right in front of where they are going (i.e. lazy syndrome or the "suburbs have free parking in front of the place I'm going to"). Ask Palidino the developer who believes we need more parking lots and ramps to turn around downtown


    If people miss their destination, all they have to do is turn around at the next block and come back around again. Or they could pull aside and just walk back the few hundred feet they missed the place by.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by Rumpy Tunanator
    Really. So they all should be converted to two-way then? Sure traffic is not as crazy is it probally was 30-50 years, but the volumes have been constant over the last decade.

    Some streets should (and have) been converted to 2-way such as Washington St. Others such as Huron St should have been left alone due to the short blocks. Franklin was converted a couple years back and is now causing problems for E-W streets (bus routes and HV turning radius which is the case on Huron). There is talk of converting Pearl St into a 2-way which would be a big mistake due to the amont of delivery trucks along certian blocks, as well as it's purpose as a major arterial.

    Off-topic:
    The real problem in Downtown Buffalo is that everybody expects to park right in front of where they are going (i.e. lazy syndrome or the "suburbs have free parking in front of the place I'm going to"). Ask Palidino the developer who believes we need more parking lots and ramps to turn around downtown


    If people miss their destination, all they have to do is turn around at the next block and come back around again. Or they could pull aside and just walk back the few hundred feet they missed the place by.
    I just love Chippawa since it was converted to two way. It is so messy and urban. I also think Elm and Oak should be each two way and get rid of that impediment to development east of dodwntown. The most congested cities are the most successful cities....So why do we keep wanting to move people through so fast. Cities should be filled with fast minds and slow streets.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    I just love Chippawa since it was converted to two way. It is so messy and urban. I also think Elm and Oak should be each two way and get rid of that impediment to development east of dodwntown. The most congested cities are the most successful cities....So why do we keep wanting to move people through so fast. Cities should be filled with fast minds and slow streets.

    Chippewa works because it has the room for parking on both sides. It probably would be slow going and cruising regardless of the traffic pattern nowadays.

    Allen St is another story. That street was never meant for 2-way traffic with parking on both sides. They should have either expanded the street (although they would have lost a significant amount of sidewalk space which they would have never done) or reduced parking to one side (which they would never agree to, i.e. Allentown Association).

    As for the Elm/Oak Arterial, that's state owned and they would never agree to converting those to 2-way (from what I'm told, even though its been requested).
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


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  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by Rumpy Tunanator
    Chippewa works because it has the room for parking on both sides. It probably would be slow going and cruising regardless of the traffic pattern nowadays.

    Allen St is another story. That street was never meant for 2-way traffic with parking on both sides. They should have either expanded the street (although they would have lost a significant amount of sidewalk space which they would have never done) or reduced parking to one side (which they would never agree to, i.e. Allentown Association).

    As for the Elm/Oak Arterial, that's state owned and they would never agree to converting those to 2-way (from what I'm told, even though its been requested).

    Ah Allen street.

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one. This is a wonderful urban street and is perfect for two way traffic. It is exactly what Jane Jacobs is looking for. Short blocks, narrow width, two way traffic, well proportioned buildings, and a lot of commercial activity. The only thing missing that she would want is a mix of new constrcution in with the old. the fact that It terminates at each end within 6 or 7 blocks makes it all the more charming and that much less reason to have fast moving 1 way traffic. The side streets off Allen do need to be one way though. They are just too nnarrow to accomodate two way.


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