Given the severity and number of challenges facing Detroit, streetscape improvements might not seem like a very high priority. But in the Motor City's Midtown, one of the city's relatively resurgent neighborhoods, a local planning non-profit is betting that encouraging more bicyclists and pedestrians will be a boon for the area. As a result, Detroit may soon get its first buffered bike lanes. Between Temple Street and Warren Avenue, Midtown’s 2nd Avenue is the target of a substantial road diet, as first reported by ModeShift. As Curbed Detroit put it, “The street is practically wide enough to land a jumbo jet, so carving up this turkey will provide cyclists and drivers with large portions of road,” creating a backbone for bike infrastructure between Wayne State University and the waterfront. The 5-foot bike lanes would run for approximately one mile on both sides of 2nd Avenue, separated from 8-foot parking and 11-foot drive lanes by a 3.5-foot, diagonally striped buffer. Midtown Detroit is pushing the diet as part of a larger campaign to repurpose a slew of extra-wide and outmoded one-way streets in the city’s central business district. City Council has already approved the larger project, which includes opening 2nd Avenue to two-way traffic. In 2012 work began on the "Midtown Loop," which turned two downtown one-ways into two-way streets and made bike lanes out of car lanes in this district dense with cultural institutions and new downtown development. ModeShift reports the project should cost $200,000 plus inspection fees. The Michigan Department of Transportation will oversee the work, which is expected to win some federal money. MDOT previously authorized $1 million for non-car "enhancements" along Cass Avenue in 2014. As MDOT gears up to revamp I-375, alternative transportation advocates are pushing for green space and pedestrian-friendly accoutrements in the wake of the downtown highway's car-centric legacy.
Posts tagged with "road diets":
Dunlavey Street in central Houston typifies the image of a Southwestern city street. It's a sprawling, four lane affair that is approximately 50 percent usable, 80 percent pedestrian unsafe, and, in this case, 100 percent in need of an update. Transportation officials are evening out the numbers for a proposed road diet that would reduce the four-lane street to two and using the outer lane space for parking, improved sidewalks, and bike lanes. Currently, many of Houston’s wide streets—and some of its highways—operate under the principle of induced demand. This idea dictates that existing space is utilized by sheer import of its presence. In other words, people use big roads because there are big roads to use. But the outer lanes of Dunlavey are hardly drivable. They are pothole-ridden, with uneven gutters and extensive debris. Because the lanes go largely unused, pedestrians misguidedly utilize them, sometimes with fatal results. Removing the exterior two lanes would remove confusion over what is drivable area and what is not. It would clearly delineate the road’s functionality, and create a responsible message to drivers and citizens about the roadway’s capacity. In years past, expanding outward has been the modus operandi of Southwestern transportation. Cars, and not people, determined the size of roadways. But this proposal overturns that tradition. The space that comes from the unused exterior two lanes will be converted into parking, bicycle lanes, and better sidewalks. According to planners, these changes will facilitate more efficient traffic, increase pedestrian safety, and encourage alternative methods of transportation such as biking or walking. It also curbs the expansion trend’s tendency to impinge upon private property—an aspect that, commuter or not, Houston’s citizens should be pleased about. If all goes according to plan, the proposal aims to not only increase the quality of life in Houston, but to be the beginning of a larger trend. Developers hope that Houston will be the next city that roadway planners look to when considering developments. A June open house meeting will follow up on the proposal’s details, while City Council will officially consider the changes in September. The plan’s announcement comes a week after Houston was named among the ten worst cities for pedestrians.
The jostle of potholes notwithstanding, motorists might find nothing unbalanced about Chicago’s public streets. But the Active Transportation Alliance points out while nearly a quarter of the city is in the public right-of-way, cars dominate practically all of it. Citing the city’s Make Way for People initiative, which turns over underused street space to pedestrians, the group released 20 proposals Wednesday, calling on City Hall to create car-free spaces from Wrigley Field to Hyde Park. Their full list is available here. It includes a protected bike lane and landscaped seating area on Dearborn and/or Clark Streets, from River North to the South Loop; a pedestrian plaza on 18th Street in Pilsen, created by a dead-end at Carpenter, Miller and/or Morgan Streets; closing Milwaukee Avenue through the square of Logan Square; and closing portions of the vibrant retail corridor on 26th Street in Little Village to vehicle traffic. “Our hope is to jump-start conversations that lead to further study and the creation of car-free spaces,” writes the Active Transportation Alliance. The civic group said the list is inspired partly by places like Navy Pier, Times Square in New York City, and existing pedestrian plazas like Kempf Plaza in Lincoln Square. A spokesman for Chicago’s Department of Transportation told the Tribune that the agency “agrees with the concept,” but wouldn’t weigh in on any of the Active Transportation Alliance’s specific suggestions just yet. The Make Way for People initiative's so-called “complete streets” have gained traction among urban planners for their inclusion of pedestrians, bicyclists, and green space within the standard two- and four-lane roads that cater almost exclusively to cars. New York has overhauled dozens of public streets and plazas in recent years. Chicago designers, including North Center-based Altamanu, have worked with the city in recent years to draft plans for pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets from Mayfair to the lakefront.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city's continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio's predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York's built environment. With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed boulders, Bloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan's street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it's at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta's redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate. As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Allen and Pike Streets in the Lower East Side. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Holland Tunnel Area. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: St. Nicholas Avenue & Amsterdam Avenue. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Allen and Pike Street in the Lower East Side. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Harlem River Park Gateway. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Herald Square. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Harlem River Park Gateway. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Location: Broadway at Times Square. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: 12th Avenue West at 135th Street. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Holland Tunnel Area. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Louis Nine Boulevard. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Delancey Street in the Lower East Side. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Prospect Park West. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Broadway at Times Square. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Broadway & West 71st Street. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Union Square. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Columbus Avenue. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Union Square. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Water and Whitehall Streets. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Union Square. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Randall and Leggett Ave. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Grand Army Plaza at the entrance to Brooklyn's Prospect Park. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Location: Hoyt Avenue at the RFK Bridge. All photos courtesy New York City Department of Transportation.
Progressive transportation commissioners have become heroes in planning circles. There's a lot of excitement surrounding Chicago Mayor Emanuel's appointment of Gabe Klein as DOT commissioner. Poached from Washington D.C., where Emanuel saw his work first-hand, Klein has extensive experience instituting new transportation ideas, including the nation's largest bike sharing program and a new streetcar system. The Chicago Tribune has a good roundup of Klein's thoughts so far, which include focusing on improving the CTA rather than building a new High Speed Rail Line to O'Hare, increasing traffic calming measures and pedestrian upgrades, expanding bike lanes and bus rapid transit. Overall he wants to dramatically increase biking, walking, and transit use and diminish the presence of cars, especially in the central city. Before transitioning into government, Klein worked in the transportation field as an executive at a bicycle company and at Zipcar. More broadly, the appointment signals an openness on the part of the Emanuel Administration to bringing in new people and new ideas into Chicago's government agencies, a welcome shift from the patronage system of the Daley regime. Janette Sadik-Khan in New York and Jan Gehl of Denmark may have a new rival for the title of progressive transportation star.