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Thread: One way streets?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian southern_yank's avatar
    May 2006
    Dallas, TX
    Blog entries

    One way streets?

    I'm often the only planner in a room full of engineers. In Baltimore, there seems to be an overwhelming preference for one way streets given how many of them exist - especially downtown. In school we learned that two way streets in dense areas improve business visibility, ease navigation (especially for tourists), and serve as built-in traffic calming. From an engineering persective it seems total traffic volume is often the only consideration when designating one ways.

    Have any of you been successful in converting one ways to two ways? If so, what were the arguments that worked? How did businesses react to the proposed change? Any comments on long term impacts of a two way change?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    The City of Appleton, WI converted most of its downtown one-ways back to two way within the past 10 years or so. I would contact them for their take on it.


  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    Downtowns are usually where you will find the one-way streets, and thei decline of downtown is often exacerbated by them. Of course, the transportation folks don't want to admit that.

    We have been seeing more and more communities wanting an evaluation of their downtown one-way streets as a component of their downtown or comprehensive planning projects. I think people are beginning to realize that for streets with relatively low traffic volumes, one-way streets are simply not necessary. Unique situations like difficult intersections or especially narrow rights of way may be a legitimate justification, but wanting multiple lanes to move traffic at 10,000 ADT is not.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
    Dec 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    I am going to crack up if this is the planner who works in my dept!! I don't like to compare Portland, Or. to our east coast cities most of the time (so I will contradict myself). I had been a strong advocate of two-way streets until I visited Portland - a city of one-way streets and praised as the model of transportation planning-it changed my perception a bit. Signalized appropriately, I feel they can perform/function the same as a two-way in the matter you mention-this is totally a matter of opinion.

    Here in Baltimore, we have recently converted Lombard and Pratt Streets, east of Broadway, to two-way. While we haven't studied the capacity/volume effects to date, I can say it has calmed the traffic....because I drive that way home . it is mostly residential so we wouldn't see business impacts.
    Last edited by jkellerfsu; 07 Nov 2007 at 3:26 PM. Reason: spelling

  6. #6
    We're finishing a study to restore the two-way system in our inner-city. I strongly agree with Cardinal and would add that our present concerns are 1) congestion and 2) safety. We've tasked the consultants with evaluating those issues a little more closely.

    We started the study only after we determined that there was consensus in the community to change back to two-way streets. Business leaders have been the stongest backers of it, BTW.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Mar 2005
    London, UK
    Quote Originally posted by southern_yank View post
    From an engineering persective it seems total traffic volume is often the only consideration when designating one ways.
    That needs to be redefined completely. Now. Someone as highly trained as an engineer must be able to fathom that a 'system' like a street has multifaceted requirements / priorities which must be weighed against each other.

    Pedestrian safety and ease of navigation / access OBVIOUSLY take precedence over vehicle throughput. Sorry for the ranting tone but where do these people go to school???
    Last edited by Gedunker; 15 Nov 2007 at 11:56 AM. Reason: fixed quote tags
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  8. #8
    Oct 2004
    New Orleans, LA
    My home city recently adopted a resolution to replace a two way street with two one way streets; one major reason stated was pedestrian safety due to the intimidation factor of a "mega-intersection".

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Mar 2005
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Quote Originally posted by southern_yank View post
    Have any of you been successful in converting one ways to two ways? If so, what were the arguments that worked? How did businesses react to the proposed change? Any comments on long term impacts of a two way change?
    Our city converted the main commercial street in our central business district back to two-way operation last year. A large new corporate headquarters was about to open on the north side of downtown and the street ran south to north. It was believed that the conversion would make the downtown more navigable for both visitors and downtown workers. There was some opposition based on pedestrian safety. It was a one-lane one-way street with chicanes and mid-block crossings. The two-way conversion cut off some of the chicanes, converted angled parking to parallel parking and retained the mid-block crossings. The resistance has generally faded and people have adapted (after parking facing the wrong way for a few months).

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Jun 2002
    Southeast US
    We recently had a two way street changed to a one way street where traffic volume was not an issue. The direction of traffic created a nice vista terminating at a really nice historic building that had previously been virtually ignored.

    Sometimes, city architectural character can be promoted and enhanced by using planning awareness.

    There may be other types of vistas that can be capitalized on in your area. Mountain, water, specimen tree, park, etc. or directed away from, ie. old water tank, power line pylon, industrial facility, delapidated private structure, etc.

  11. #11
    Feb 2007
    Ann Arbor, MI

    Ann Arbor

    About 4 years ago the City of Ann Arbor converted several downtown one way streets to two-way. While I don't have any empirical evidence myself, as someone who has had conversations with local officials regarding the switch, as well as someone who frequents the areas, I would say that the change had very little disruption and has been considered a great success.

  12. #12

    One Ways near schools

    We converted 2 two-way's into 2 one ways near the entrances to elementary schools and have had minimal complaints. The selling point was ped safety and organizing traffic flow for the inevitable "drop offs" and "pick ups", since these schools didn't provide off-street parking lots.
    Another underutilized (low traffic volume) 2 way street was converted to a 1 way in order to add on-street parking for a nearby business and parks.
    All in all, you have to be creative as to what streets are selected and for what reasons you choose to do so. These 3 blocks had little opposition at the proposal phase and even less since their changing. It is likely they will stay this way for a long time.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

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