Spaces for Cars (and people)

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Fifth Avenue Before


Fifth Avenue After

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I just saved a lot of typing.

Which street scene is more appealing?  Which one looks safer?  Which one would have a positive impact on the community?

Rob Dinsmore, landscape architect (to be) created those sketches as part of our Expo seminar last week.  He and Kit Anderson applied a little road diet to Fifth Avenue, the four-lane highway that bounds Marshall University in Huntington.  It exists now in the Before sketch, truly a Frogger situation if there ever was one.

Yes, the After sketch is so much better, but is it really possible, you may ask.  Certainly.  All Rob and Kit did was reduce the lane widths a little to make room for the center island.  And change Fifth Avenue from one-way traffic to two-way.  All of which serve to slow traffic.

Why slow traffic?  Well, for one, to create an atmosphere where cars and people can safely coexist.  To extend the edge of a public space and create a more social, livable community.  To create an atmosphere where people are much more likely to stop, enjoy themselves, and maybe even spend money shopping or dining.

No, it’s not for every situation, but it applies more often than not.  Particularly downtown.  Use your imagination and picture your own After sketch for the Frogger street in your city.

  1. Phil Evans says:

    Would it be possible to still implement this and keep 5th avenue one way, just with the center tree median around the university to still help slow things? As you know, 3rd & 5th are one way for miles, and it seems unlikely that that will change (and they are both officially US Rte 60, so I’m not sure if that helps or hurts making big changes like this).

    • Joseph Bird says:

      I guess it would be possible to implement the lane diets and keep everything one way. Interesting thing we learned in prepping for our Expo seminar. Third Avenue in the vicinity of Pullman Square used to be part of that one-way belt system. As a pre-requisite to to investing in Pullman Square, the developer required that the traffic patterns be changed to two-way. He said, “Anyone who knows anything about retail knows that a one-way street is only to get out of town. Especially at a high rate of speed.” It was changed, and we now have Pullman Square.

  2. Lee Anne Northway says:

    If you put in the flashing signs and crosswalk lights that are triggered by pedestrians before entering the crosswalk, you would make it safer yet.

  3. Jim Edwards says:

    We have been led to believe that traffic is a science. It is not. What has been missing from the analyses is driver behaviour. If streets are changed, traffic demand will change. So, that busy one-way street, when changed, will cause some drivers to simply find another way – use another route. Demand will decrease. Alternatively, traffic will simply slow down. That is a good thing.

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