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Thread: Tangible economic impacts of converting streets to two-way

  1. #1
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    Tangible economic impacts of converting streets to two-way

    I'm working on a study to convert two one-way steets in our downtown to two-way. From an engineering perspective, it doesn't make any sense as far as efficiency or safety (either vehicular or pedestrian), however there is the claim by some that it will have a great economic impact. I'm trying to find anything (a study, report, paper, etc.) that substantiates, or disproves, this claim. I have heard and read the planning theory that converting to two-way streets will make our downtown more friendly to business, but haven't come across anything that supports it.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TrafficEng66
    I'm working on a study to convert two one-way steets in our downtown to two-way. From an engineering perspective, it doesn't make any sense as far as efficiency or safety (either vehicular or pedestrian), however there is the claim by some that it will have a great economic impact. I'm trying to find anything (a study, report, paper, etc.) that substantiates, or disproves, this claim. I have heard and read the planning theory that converting to two-way streets will make our downtown more friendly to business, but haven't come across anything that supports it.
    I would contact the powers-that-be here in Appleton, WI, as several downtown one-ways were turned back into two-ways here over the past few years. A couple of them appear to be working out well and others so-so. Good luck.

    Mike

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    here's a thread about the same topic (mostly): Converting one-ways to two-ways
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  4. #4
    Cyburbian Iron Ring's avatar
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    This is a great subject that comes up over and over again. I've even heard that converting 1-way streets to 2-way will reduce crime!

    I'd love to see some tangible evidence of economic improvement after a conversion, but my feeling is it just doesn't exist. I've been involved with two projects where a 1-way couplet was to be converted to 2-way (both were driven by business interests). On the first, we convinced them that the 1-way streets should stay, but that pedestrian enhancements and streetscaping improvements might achieve the same economic benefits. You should realize that sometimes business owners in a depressed area just want "change". On the second (on-going) they seem to be pushing ahead with the conversion regardless. We gave the stakeholders the reasons why we thought it was a bad idea, but couldn't deny that 1-way streets weren't absolutely necessary. So away we go... I'll be sure to monitor the area for improved business conditions and reduced crime

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by TrafficEng66
    I'm working on a study to convert two one-way steets in our downtown to two-way. From an engineering perspective, it doesn't make any sense as far as efficiency or safety (either vehicular or pedestrian), however there is the claim by some that it will have a great economic impact. I'm trying to find anything (a study, report, paper, etc.) that substantiates, or disproves, this claim. I have heard and read the planning theory that converting to two-way streets will make our downtown more friendly to business, but haven't come across anything that supports it.
    We have a similar situation in our city where the schools REQUESTED to one-block lengths to be converted. I gave a powerpoint presentation (that is too large to share on this site) as to the pros and cons of converting ther streets to 1-way. It is congested when school is letting in and out due to a lack of off-street parking. Parents circle the block to pick up little Johnny from school, so kids are darting in and out of the traffic. Hence their idea of one-way seems to be a good idea to them. We laid out the one-way option and they loved it, city staff doesn't care because they are not highly traveled streets (600Adt and 1200 adt, respectively) they are not major through routes so they would not affect emergency services. Essentially staff's feelings are that they are their (the resident's) streets, and if they want that, we will likely change the patterns for at least a trial period. The learning curve is slow to things like this and will take a couple of months for the parents to learn.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I think that you might have a benefit of simpler navigation downtown, which in turn, COULD result in more activity and thus some minor economic benefit. But that's a little far-fetched.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian thestip's avatar
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    A large majority of our one-way streets here in Downtown Buffalo have been converted to two-way streets. The overall feeling in the community is that it is much easier to navigate around downtown now and suburbanites are less confused when they come downtown. As for economic development, there is no way to know if it has contributed to the current building boom (not much of a boom for other cities but definitely a boom for Buffalo), although it would seem to have slowed traffic down on several of the streets converted, which would make it definitely more pedestrian friendly, especially since Buffalo drivers definitely do not respect pedestrians.
    'Planning Rockstar in training';-)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian GISgal's avatar
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    Waukesha, WI

    I know that Waukesha underwent changing all of their downtown streets from one way to two way, removed a gazebo that blocked a five way intersection, and removed parking meters to make their downtown more sucessful. I believe this has resulted in decreased vacancies rates in their downtown. Here's a document that talks about it some. No economics were given. You may have to talk to the CIty about that.

    http://gulliver.trb.org/publications...9/Ec019_f2.pdf
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  9. #9
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    I haven't seen any economic studies. I have seen many downtowns that were dead until the streets were calmed and alive after that. Also many places that never un-calmed their streets have strong downtowns.

    Traffic calming is the primary issue for downtown streets (slow traffic where pedestrians feel safe and have a place to walk). Traffic calming makes drivers less comfortable and makes pedestrians more comfortable. Primary techniques are narrow travel lanes (cars go slower) on-street parking (provides a barrier between cars and pedestrians), bump outs with trees at corners (shorter crossing distance for pedestrians), tree canopy over the street and sidewalk, preferably in with bumpouts (makes drivers feel more enclosed so they slow down), etc.

    It's hard to "calm" one way streets, but it can be done (downtown Palm Springs and downtown Monterey CA have calmed one way streets). Downtown Manhattan is another but unique example, because traffic is always in gridlock (not fast) and peds feel safe because the have wide sidewalks and often move faster than the cars.

    Two way traffic is generally better than one way because it is slower. It is easier to "go around the block," park, and become a pedestrian if you want to shop downtown. However, two way streets can be designed for traffic only, and can be as threatening to pedestrians as a one-way street.

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