Fort Worth appears ready to put West 7th Street on a road diet, according to a post at fortworthology (via Walkable D/FW). West 7th Street, shown in the map below, starts at University, near the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and continues east across the Trinity River and through downtown.
The Fort Worth road diet would reduce the number of vehicle lanes from six plus a turn lane to four plus a turn lane, and would reallocate right of way to bicycle lanes and on-street parking, according to fortworthology and Walkable D/FW. A road diet is a complete streets strategy designed to slow traffic and increase access for non-motorized travelers. There are many possible configurations of road diets. The image above illustrates a conversion of a 44-foot right-of-way from four main lanes to a turn lane, two main lanes for motorized vehicles, and two bike lanes.
Long Beach, California is implementing a series of road diets that prove just how well they can work. Among these is a project unveiled in late 2009 at First Street and Linden Avenue in the East Village Arts District. Studio One Eleven, my firm, worked with the city to design curb extensions at this intersection. These “bulb-out” extensions of the sidewalk reduce the curb-to-curb distance – originally over 50 feet – between 40 and 60 percent, significantly lowering the exposure pedestrians face with vehicles, bringing them out past the obstructions of parked cars, street trees and street furniture. The narrower right of way on First Street has also calmed traffic, adding to pedestrian and bicycle safety and giving businesses better visibility.
Today, these bulb-outs are fully integrated into the street infrastructure, but a prototype plan was able to test the idea temporarily, turning the experiment into a community event. The city placed large, potted plants in the street to define the pedestrian zone. An adjacent restaurant expanded its outdoor seating into this new area of the “sidewalk” (at this point it was actually still part of the street). And an information kiosk was installed to explain the concept of the curb extensions.
It is taken for granted among some planners that enhancing pedestrian mobility can also enhance business activity, but the results in this case were dramatic: The restaurant achieved the highest receipt sales in its 10-year history.
The new, permanent curb extensions at First Street and Linden Avenue expand the pedestrian realm over 3,000 square feet, the size of two average coffee shops or a medium-sized restaurant. Besides outdoor dining, there is now room for landscaping (using drought-tolerant plants), street furniture such as benches, sidewalk paving patterns, and trash receptacles. Businesses use the expanded sidewalk for additional bike racks and outdoor sales displays. The extra space has cleared existing sidewalk area for thorough movement while expanding and making prominent the outdoor activity at these businesses.
This human-scaled design is perhaps the most important advantage of a well-planned road diet: The First and Linden curb extensions have contributed to the increased vitality of Long Beach’s East Village Arts District, with business owners, customers and local residents enjoying a sense of place that harmonizes with the energetic vibe of retail and community destinations. More than ever, the neighborhood is a civilized place where pedestrians and bicyclists are easy to spot, coffee drinkers can people watch, and shoppers are inclined to linger.
Richfield, MN, a suburb south of Minneapolis, has studied road diets for four major roads which would reduce four main lanes to three main lanes and a turn lane, according to an article published in Sun Newspapers (via Complete Streets).
W. 7th in Fort Worth and Retail as Place Driver
Complete Streets: Weekly News - Videos, Road Diets, and more!
Road Diet Handbook - Overview
Summary Report: Evaluation of Lane Reduction “Road Diet” Measures and Their Effects on Crashes and Injuries
(Diagram credit: Highway Safety Information System)