Friday, July 10, 2015

Sobering article by Emily Badger at the Wonkblog (a blog at The Washington Post)

The blog post is titled, "Why one-way streets are the absolute worst". Here's an excerpt with emphasis in red:
     In John Gilderbloom's experience, the notorious streets are invariably the one-way streets. These are the streets lined with foreclosed homes and empty storefronts, the streets that look neglected and feel unsafe, the streets where you might find drug dealers at night.
     "Sociologically, the way one-way streets work," he says, "[is that] if there are two or more lanes, a person can just pull over and make a deal, while other traffic can easily pass them by."
     It's also easier on a high-speed one-way road to keep an eye out for police or flee from the scene of a crime. At least, this is the pattern Gilderbloom, director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods at the University of Louisville, has observed in San Francisco, in Los Angeles, in Houston and Washington where streets that once flowed both directions were converted in the 1950s and '60s into fast-moving one-way thoroughfares to help cars speed through town. The places where this happened, Gilderbloom noticed, deteriorated.
     "I thought about that for a long time," he says. "But we didn’t have much empirical data on it."
     Where he lives now in Louisville, he and fellow researchers have begun to prove the curious link between how we engineer roads and what becomes of the neighborhoods around them.
Their research offers a lot more fodder for anyone who doesn't like one-way streets simply because they're baffling to navigate.
You might think, this doesn't have anything to do with the little City of Lake Worth. You would be wrong. Many of the one-way streets in the City used to be two-way and then were converted. Some one-way roads are so wide they accommodate car parking, a bike lane, and a car can easily pass another car in the right-of-way.

There really is no sensible reason for many of our streets to be one-way. One-way streets encourage higher speeds and lowered attention to surroundings by many drivers. Drivers at point 'A' are focused on point 'B', instead of having to slow down and navigate around other cars. One-way streets do not increase pedestrian or bike safety. It sounds intuitive that one-way streets are safer. Research has been debunking this myth.

Lake and Lucerne Avenues used to be two-way streets. Clematis Street in West Palm used to be one-way but was converted back to two-way. That change is thought by many to have contributed to the revitalization of that city. FDOT is slowly, excruciatingly slow, but coming around to that realization. FDOT's mission for years was lowering the time getting from one place to another. That's fine on highways but disastrous for small towns and city's where vehicular speeds are way too high.

Here is the Complete Streets Implementation from FDOT:
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Complete Streets Policy incorporates context-appropriate roadway designs that accommodate users of all ages and abilities, including cyclists, pedestrians, motorists, transit, and freight. FDOT recognizes 21st Century demographics, business practices and development patterns requiring broad focus beyond just the automobile.
This has been a huge debate in the planning world and ever since Jeff Speck's work in West Palm Beach last year. Since then the "Genie is out of the bottle" so to speak.

One last thing, two-way streets are better for the environment. Why? How much gas has your car used driving down a one-way street to reach your destination on another one-way street going in another direction? Think about that for a while.