Parking Calming 101

Parking Calming: nobody is speeding down this street.

(…and, that is a beautiful thing)

On-street parking on Washington St., Traverse City. (photo GLHJR)

Traffic planners and engineers aren’t making this up, narrowing the streets with on-street parking slows drivers down. A combination of factors are at work: 1) when we drive through an area like the one shown above we feel a sense of enclosure and 2) because there is likely to be more human activity of people present as people get in and out of cars and then walk to their destination, we also slow down due to context.

In Traverse City, one of the major issues over the last 30 years has been cut-through and speeding traffic through the neighborhoods. The number of cars on the road is another long-term fix all together, but narrowing the streets with a sense of enclosure and getting more people walking and bicycling is the quickest solution to increasing the cost of driving through the neighborhoods.

A more strategic use of our streets, and other infrastructure, for parking is needed.

CAUTION: When bicycling next to parked cars, be safe: avoid the door

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The content of this blog is well researched, but the writer could still be totally off his f***ing rocker–if you think so, let him know…then click through to make a contribution


Keep the Wheels Turning

  1. JohnRobertWilliams
    October 6, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Gary, I agree with you that Washington Street is much calmer in this depicted area. Motorists gently pick their way through these blocks. I think it’s everyone’s right to be able to park in front of their own house. Not only to pick up or drop off family members, groceries, errands, etc. It’s part of modern life for houses with and without driveways.
    However, we tend to create an additional conflict with streets marked for “cross town bike routes” and bike lanes, in streets parked up with cars. For instance, in the same blocks on State Street, curbside parking has been eliminated on the south side of the street, allowing far greater car speeds east bound. Why? The Boardman Neighborhood is just as valid on State as Washington or Webster. If speed control is desired, suggesting a slower speed (sigh, signs) along with allowing on-street parking, is a good, consistent message a city can send. But will two-sided parking force more cyclists up over the curb and onto the sidewalk? Subtract the two widths from cars, plus door lanes and some city streets become “one-laners”.
    Ahh, the price of popularity! Lucky us!

  2. Max
    October 7, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Agree! When Washington is filled up during summer festivals I don’t feel safe biking down it. Between trying to avoid being doored and motorists passing too close or driving too close behind me, it’s very nerve-racking to say the least. Also I don’t like what was done with Elmwood. People still speed and riding a bike with drivers forced to pass too close because the street is narrower doesn’t feel safe. If anything we should be keeping the streets wide and painting large 2 lane bike lanes, or bike lanes on either side. Perhaps even protected bike lanes. I feel safer riding on the bike lane on 5 mile than I do on parked-up Washington or narrow Elmwood.

  3. Max
    October 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I meant to say 2-way bike lanes. Wish I could edit these comments.

  4. October 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I would agree with Gary’s point. We live in the older part of a city that doesn’t have alleys, is densely developed into rowhouses, and so most every street is full of cars on both sides. Including cars that are parked on the ends of the streets at the intersections. I believe that partly as a result, by and large I don’t see folks driving above the speed limit, or running stop signs. As a cyclist I feel pretty safe. Although I also have to be on guard for getting doored and such.

    I don’t think there’s a perfect solution. If you don’t have parked cars and you have wide streets then cyclists can cruise along, not having to worry about doors, but also have to contend with speeding cars and cars not stopping at stop signs.

    The other thing we have where we are living (Alexandria, VA) are stop signs on every corner. I know that Gary’s not a fan but I sure am. Makes for a very predictable traffic pattern and keeps car speeds down, which adds another margin of safety for cyclists.

    Also, most of the residential streets in TC are largely unused for parking for most of the year. Seems a waste of public property to me to not be using it for something.

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