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road diets?

vaughan

Cyburbian
Messages
335
Points
11
Does anyone out there have experience with converting four lane roads into two- or three-lane roads in downtown areas? Our main street is also a state highway and we're looking at different alternatives to handle traffic/pedestrian issues during rush hour. Keep in mind that this is a pretty small town of about 30,000 people, so when i say rush hour, I mean "rush hour".

The instant response that our city decision makers have had is to suggest removing the on-street parking and adding a fifth turning lane; I'm having a panic attack to that idea and my argument is that the cars create a nice buffer, we need walking customers downtown, etc.... This is pretty classic pedestrian-friendly streets versus highway development stuff- I'm just looking for a few examples I can point at to show that keeping the downtown free of speedsters is a good idea.

The alternative that I'm trying to put together right now is to drop from four lanes to two, put a median down the center of the road, and add turning lanes. Keep the traffic flowing along the main road and divert left-turning cars into the turn lanes. Its expensive, but since I'm just the graduate student intern, I'm allowed to have idealistic suggestions.

Here's (hopefully) a few pictures to give you the idea of the area I'm talking about:





Fixed by Giff
I've tried to insert some pictures above to give an idea of what we're dealing with, but I'm not sure I did it right. If they don't turn out, try this link:

http://images.google.com/imgres?img...=20&svnum=10&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sa=N

If that doesn't work, just picture small town america.

Thanks!
 

passdoubt

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
13
I don't know if this is feasible, but you could split the thoroughfare between two parallel streets through the town. Have one signed as "State route [whatever] North" and the other be "South."
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
passdoubt said:
I don't know if this is feasible, but you could split the thoroughfare between two parallel streets through the town. Have one signed as "State route [whatever] North" and the other be "South."
Your thought of a median and turn lanes was exactly my first thought. That comes from 13 years of working in downtown development. Good job for a "lowly grad student." :-} The key thing is to realize that the road serves more than one purpose. It is not there solely to move traffic, and in fact moving traffic more slowly (but with few conflicts) will improve the economic health of the district. People will be more likely to see the businesses from inside of their cars going 25 mph than they would be at 35 mph. Add to that the people on the sidewalks who will be more comfortable.

Here's a really idealistic idea to throw them. Now that you have eliminated two lanes and replaced one with a median, take the other one and use it to widen the sidewalks. Then review your ordinance to make sure they do not interfere with businesses putting merchandise out on the sidewalk during the day, or cafes having tables outside.

Sorry passdoubt, but your idea of routing traffic onto parallel streets is one of the surest ways to kill a downtown. Again, it works for moving traffic, but it makes businesses less accessible and cuts their drive-by traffic in half. It was a 1960's-70's idea, along with pedestrian malls. The downtowns than adopted these ideas are among the most distressed I have seen.
 

vaughan

Cyburbian
Messages
335
Points
11
Thanks for the thoughts. Passdoubt, the possibility does exist for your idea and its one of the thoughts on the table right now. Cardinal- would you have any specific small town examples of places where this has worked? It would be great to point to some economic successes...

Thanks agains.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
PM me with your e-mail address. I'll see what I can find that may help.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,706
Points
69
College Avenue in downtown Fort Collins, Colorado, was "narrowed" by adding diagonal parking in the center of the street, and extending the curbline into what was the parking lane at intersections. Although the street itself wasn't narrowed, the changes gave the illusion that it was, thus making the street seem more intimate and pedestrian-friendly.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I thought I might have a few good articles to send you, but it seems most of the ideas I have spent the last few years talking about are drawn from too many sources. One of the best, though, is a book by the Federal Highway Administration called Flexibility in Highway Design. I obtained about fifty copies of it when it first came out and have been giving them away ever since. You should be able to get a free copy from their website.

I have also posted pictures of one of my favorite streetscapes on Cyburbia before. Palmyra, Wisconsin completed this project 2-3 years ago. They took a wide street and narrowed it considerably with angled parking on one side and parallel on the other. Then they widened the sidewalks and included a surprising amount of vegetation. If you drive by in summer you will see businesses with merchandise outside of their doors, and outdoor seating at the coffee shop. It is one of the more unique downtowns I have seen because of the way they designed it.

11Palmyra_06.jpg

11Palmyra_03.jpg
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
Orlando FL tried a "road diet" on Edgewater Drive thru the College Park area a couple years ago, going from 4 lanes to 2 with a center turn lane. Reactions have been mixed. I have heard recently that they plan to try this on some other roadways.

My former place of employment, a small FL town, tried the "one-way pairs" 10 or so years ago and other than being a major pain in getting around, it didn't have much of an impact on businesses since most of the retail had already moved out, leaving the downtown primarily to government, lawyers, insurance agents, etc.
 

vaughan

Cyburbian
Messages
335
Points
11
Dan, I appreciate the Fort Collins reference- its just south of us and I had totally blanked on it... Cardinal- thanks for the Federal Highway reference- I had heard that there was a publication floating around out there but didn't know the name of it.

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions, everyone.
 
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