The sticky issue of one-way to two-way conversions

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Stuck with one-ways?

Yesterday, The Ticker explored a possible unlikely conversion of Front St. (Ticker)* into a two-way street. The issue has been raised here before . Generally, I’m in support of it, but don’t necessarily think it is the most pressing issue in the city…now, conversion of our other one-way streets–State St., 7th St, and 8th St.–those are discussions worth having for the immediate future (In the future, I would like to play with the Front St. as a one lane idea though.)

As guest writer Pete Spaulding has explored,  State St. under performs as anything other than a conduit for moving and parking cars. While in the neighborhoods, the two broken streets of 7th and 8th inhibit a full functioning city grid while at the same time exacerbating the concerns over speeding traffic. Two way traffic through a residential street helps to smooth and calm traffic, while still utilizing the public right of way efficiently and improving safety.

Most of the arguments against two-ways too heavily focus on congestion, as if it is a disease that shall not be mentioned. Problem is, congestion can actually be a city’s friend in a downtown context. It slows down speeds, it gets more people walking, increases safety and comfort for those walking, and has shown to better serve commercial interests. The term I keep seeing that might apply here, is that two-way streets can help make a place “sticky”, meaning a place that people come to rather than pass through. And, for me, sticky is what we want our community to be.

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Read more about one-way/two discussion in Traverse City below the pro and con list:

(click through to embiggen)

One-Way/Two-Way Posts in the MyWHaT archive:

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* I say unlikely, because it is clear from the comments by city staff most likely to help achieve a conversion that it is a process they don’t want to lead. Without staff leadership, I don’t see conversions going anywhere anytime soon. 

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  1. Stephen
    January 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Though in an ideal world I think I agree that 2-way streets are better, from personal experience I would say that the status quo is fine downtown, because of the presence of bike lanes. As someone who bikes downtown occasionally, I really appreciate the presence of bike lanes, and one-way streets allow this because there is enough space for a one-directional bike lane. If you made front or state two-way, I don’t think there’d be enough space for bike lanes in both directions, which would be a big loss in my opinion (personally, I’d say get rid of some on-street parking and put a bidirectional cycle path in on both streets, but good luck convincing the community that they need less parking on those streets). Given the realities of the situation, and the fact that we already have it pretty good, I would say our highest priority should be to expand and connect the bike lane network, not worry about how fast the cars are moving in their lanes.

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