Traverse City’s fat streets and the benefits of a diet
Benefits of Road Diets_
This past Tuesday night the Traverse City Planning Commission wrapped up its review of the Corridor Improvement Master Plan. The comments generated through the four meeting review process will now be shared with the consultants for final edits, additions, and omissions. After those changes, it will come back to the PC for review and consideration on how best to use the plan.
As expressed before Spring Break, the concept of applying road diets to 8th Street and Garfield Avenue were recommended. A road diet is the roadway conversion most often associated with converting a 4-lane roadway to a three-lane roadway, often narrowing the lanes, and thus creating more space for improved pedestrian and bicycle consideration.
Often the debate around road diets focuses on terms of mobility. Chiefly, how will it impact traffic? And, by traffic, this often narrowly expressed in purely motorized terms. We showed two weeks ago how road diets can actually be a net positive, or at least neutral, impact on motorized capacity of a corridor. However, implementing a road diet is not so narrowly focused.
Instead, particularly for under serving corridors like our two stroads (and, really, any of the other 3 corridors studied), it is about creating improved access and a more engaging place. A road diet is a shift away from the goal of satisfying people’s needs to go through an area to the primary goal of creating a place that attracts people and provides greater public good for the specific corridor and community. Fundamentally, it is about designing a place as if the people living and working there matter.
Below is a StreetFilms short that explains the benefits of road diets and why they are steadily being proposed in communities around the country. In addition to the film, I used a series of other resources to create the following diagram of a few of the most commonly found benefits of road diets.
(Click to embiggen)
What are the benefits I’m missing?
Road diets don’t typically happen without a bit of political courage. Communities that have lived with a certain context for decades are often resistant to the suggestion that a change away from the focus on moving cars is possible without a slew of negative consequences. Traverse City will certainly deal with this discussion in the coming months and years. As the literature shows, if done in the proper context many of the negative fears of congestion, spill-over, and safety issues will not manifest themselves. Like other communities, there will be initial resistance followed by wide acceptance and requests for more; we have little reason to think otherwise.
Please, share the above diagram and information, as well as the video below, with people likely to be engaged on this matter.
- Going on a Road Diet by Federal Highway Administration
- Road Diets: Fixing the Big Roads by Dan Burden and Peter Lagerwey (PDF)
- Evaluation of Lane Reduction “Road Diet” Measures on Crashes by FHA
- York Blvd: The economics of a road diet by Cullen McCormick (PDF)
- The Economic Merits of Road Diets Dom’s Plan B
- Road Conversions: A Tool for Complete Streets Connected Communities: Complete Streets
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