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General: Complete Streets, Road Diets, and Traffic Calming

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Tim Davis @kettlemoraine

Carmel, Ind., has ~100 roundabouts, more than any other U.S. city. #Traffic injuries have decreased by 80% since they were installed.


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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8 Transportation Engineering Euphemisms That Should Be Tossed Out

By Angie Schmitt Jan 17, 2017

 

Have you ever gone to a public meeting about a street in your neighborhood, only to be told that your ideas to calm traffic would result in a “level of service” that would be “unacceptable”? Or that an “alternative transportation” option like a bike lane would render the street “capacity deficient”?

 

Those terms originated in the mid-century highway era, and they remain baked into transportation engineering to this day. There is a whole specialized vocabulary tilted against street design concepts that can improve health, safety, and street life. Ian Lockwood, a transportation engineer and consultant, says it’s time to leave these phrases behind.

 

MORE:

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/01/17/8-transportation-engineering-euphemisms-that-should-be-tossed-out/


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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Banning words won't fix anything.  It sounds like the issue is with capacity analysis.  To put it mildly Lockwood thinks the standards for that should change, which is a reasonable position to take, but you can't use magic vocabulary to make the opposing position, or the entire issue, disappear. 

 

In the cartoon at the top of that article, the city planner is trying to eliminate a big setback and he's the bad guy because that's "a disaster" for residents.  Gotta have that yard.  Then the article suggests we can make neighborhoods more walkable by making cars sit at traffic lights longer. 

 

The issue for pedestrians isn't the street or the cars or the lights, because they rarely interact with those.  Setbacks, however, are an issue.  Pedestrians care about what's between the intersections, what's along the streets, whether it's worth walking to.  If low density and single-use planning forces them to drive, they'll drive.  Making them drive slower won't change that.  It can't. 

 

Design the built environment for pedestrians and you've solved walkability.  Build mass transit and you've solved traffic, plus you've enhanced walkability.  Walkability has nothing to do with speed limits or lights or lanes, it is a need independent from the need for cars to move efficiently.  Both can and should happen at the same time.  This is not a zero sum game.

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I'm always pleasantly surprised when I'm looking at various Ohio cities on Google Street View and notice that they have implemented road diets. Most recently I noticed that Lima has implemented them on several streets, removing a traffic lane and adding angled parking and/or bike lanes. It also just makes me sad that we can't do them in Cincinnati because our current Mayor and Dept. of Transportation don't understand them...

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Dayton's been doing a great job with road diets recently. They just finished narrowing Fifth Street between Wayne and Keowee, Brown Street now has bike lanes along it (although it's inexplicably still 35 when it should really be 25-30 now), and downtown has a lot of bike lanes that help compliment the region's incredibly robust bike trail network. It's been nice seeing so much proactive work from a smaller rust belt city.


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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Dayton has it a bit easier than many cities with nearly 50% population loss and excessively wide streets to begin with.  They could go for full on Dutch/Danish cycletracks if they really wanted to. 

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Yeah there really aren't too many traffic bottlenecks anywhere where a cyclist would realistically be here, and half the time you don't even need the bike lanes downtown because you have the whole street to yourself. But I've been very impressed with the amount of people who actually get around by bike here, I always see people commuting around on the Link bikes or even just recreationally on the trails along the Miami.


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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^ As I mentioned earlier (kinda), Dayton’s been doing a phenomenal job with road diets and bump outs in the core of the city. Of course, as was also mentioned, traffic really isn’t an issue in Dayton which makes things easier, but it’s good to see that they’re doing the right thing and actually narrowing roads when they rebuild them.


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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I was watching a whole crowd of Clinic employees cross the new E105 at Carnegie today -- wow, talk about a wide stretch of road to cross.  No wonder the new parking garage is getting an elevated walkway to keep those Clinic employees off the street.  Is that what we're going to get for the rest of the Opportunity Corridor?

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This is such a great idea -- this is needed at many places in downtown Cleveland, especially on East 9th Street where pedestrians/bikes/scooters keep getting hit and fatalities have occurred....

 

[/member]WalkBoston

Cambridge is continuing to add raised crosswalks at side streets along Mass Ave to prioritize people walking and slow the speeds of turning drivers. Bonus: no giant puddle/frozen slush in curb cuts at this corner next winter - Great job! – at MBTA Bus Stop (Mass Ave [/member] Pearl St)

 

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"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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So they haven't even determined if the road diet contributed at all, but they're going to report on it and use a bunch of scare quotes anyway.  No concern for trying to prevent people from being killed and maimed on such roads on a daily basis.  Talk about fear mongering, and the danger of "but sometimes."  

  

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20 hours ago, E Rocc said:

 

Closing Ontario St. doesn't exactly help with downtown Cleveland's evacuation plan either.  There is an extent to which efficient traffic flow must always be a priority.  It's not a city vs suburb or cars vs people scenario.  The benefit of physically choking off roads like this is not worth the cost, especially when the risk analysis includes no longer having a real road to use. 

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Quote

Mayor Jody Jones said Tuesday that the evacuation of Paradise, begun at 7:46 a.m Nov. 8, was complete by 3 p.m. Residents who arrived at a shelter in Oroville said the 16-mile exodus took 2½ hours, better than the three-hour evacuation in 2008 that sparked the Butte County Grand Jury’s investigation.


They had a 17% faster evacuation after the road diet compared to a previous evacuation with the wider roads.

 

I think they had an evacuation plan in place for this fire and not the earlier one, so that may account for some of the faster evacuation times. People may also be taking fires more seriously and leaving before they are required to. But I don't know that you should stop road diets like this because of the evacuation plans. How often does a city like Cleveland need an evacuation plan? Do they even have one? What would they be evacuating? Cleveland (and Ohio) isn't very susceptible to hurricanes, or wildfires.

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1 hour ago, ryanlammi said:


They had a 17% faster evacuation after the road diet compared to a previous evacuation with the wider roads.

 

I think they had an evacuation plan in place for this fire and not the earlier one, so that may account for some of the faster evacuation times. People may also be taking fires more seriously and leaving before they are required to. But I don't know that you should stop road diets like this because of the evacuation plans. How often does a city like Cleveland need an evacuation plan? Do they even have one? What would they be evacuating? Cleveland (and Ohio) isn't very susceptible to hurricanes, or wildfires.

 

Evacuation plans don't only apply to natural disasters.   

 

But my point was more that physically destroying infrastructure for aesthetic/social engineering reasons can have adverse consequences that far exceed any perceived benefits.

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Physically destroying our cities for aesthetic/social engineering reasons (forcing us to drive just to survive) can have adverse consequences that far exceed any perceived benefits.

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Lol, infrastructure (and land use more broadly) is not some naturally occurring thing. Every decision about it, including maintaining what's there or just letting it sit, is an aesthetic choice that could be construed as having a social engineering component.

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Reminds me of when ODOT was asked a few years ago if they would do anything to encourage more people to use transit and they said, "oh no, we don't do social engineering." But of course they pump billions into highway expansion projects that encourage people to drive move. As usual roads get a free pass and are "not social engineering" while anything transit, bike, or walkability related is.

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1 hour ago, taestell said:

Reminds me of when ODOT was asked a few years ago if they would do anything to encourage more people to use transit and they said, "oh no, we don't do social engineering." But of course they pump billions into highway expansion projects that encourage people to drive move. As usual roads get a free pass and are "not social engineering" while anything transit, bike, or walkability related is.

 

The federal highway system is one of the largest government subsidized programs in U.S. History and the free market peeps don't even bat an eye.


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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