Street Design Articles

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This article discusses the change from 10 foot lanes to 12 foot lanes, and how narrower lanes are proven to be safer and cause a decrease in accidents. This author took a problem and considered an option outside of the box; altering the roads instead of altering the behavior of drivers. High-volume streets such as the streets in D.C., are areas where this change is focused. But, the author explains that, “these streets used to be made up of 10-foot lanes…the success of these streets has had little impact on the traffic-engineering establishment, which, over the decades, has pushed the standard upward, almost nationwide, first to 11 feet, and then to 12.” This is evidence that there is a standard that cities follow that they believe is the best infrastructure to have for cities because of the belief that “wider is safer.” However, further down, the author provides studies to show that the “wider is safer” belief is incorrect, “A safety evaluation of lane widths for arterial roadway segments found no indication, except in limited cases, that the use of narrower lanes increases crash frequencies. The lane widths in the analyses conducted were generally either not statistically significant or indicated that narrower lanes were associated with lower rather than higher crash frequencies.” Finally, the author concludes that the evidence presented should create change in street design because cars would drive more cautiously, eight feet would be available on each side of the street for creating protected cycle lanes, and the presence of bike lanes would make sidewalks safer to walk on.

Sadik-Khan titles Chapter four, “How to Read the Street,” indicating that she considers reading the street is something that no one truly knows how to do. She expresses her frustration in the knowledge that state transportation has in building and maintaining new roads. Her argument is that their solutions to the problem are anything but helpful, because they believe more roads will help decrease the amount of traffic or decrease the amount of accidents that occur. She supports this with a situation in Los Angeles, on Sepulveda Pass. This highway was a target for change, specifically to “chip away at the delay” that causes extreme traffic. Their solution was to build a carpool lane, hoping that it would encourage people to share rides and therefore decrease the amount of cars on the road or even reduce congestion. However, this idea was “grossly misplaced.” More lanes means more traffic, more accidents and more speeding.

Similar to the articles read in this blog post, she mentions the standard of 12 foot lanes, and how they are a standard. However, she breaks it down. A Toyota Camry is 6 feet in width, leaving an excess width of 6 feet, which can’t be safe. She also discusses the theory behind this, which is a reiteration of what the articles have said. The theory of lanes being built this way all comes down to the idea that “wider streets mean more room to move more cars, and wider lanes give cars a buffer so they don’t hit one another.” This leads to her solution, in other words, what it should be instead.

She believes that if the lanes were rearranged, shortened, and narrowed, then a bike lane, pedestrian lane and a bus lane could be added. Further in the chapter, she mentions that this plan has been carried out in other cities, and has been seen as successful. However, there are cities that have “buried highways as opposed to removing them.” But then, there’s Vancouver, who has made themselves a model city for cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, a city that’s filled with thousands bicyclists and public transportation. The author wishes for this to be carried out in the United States, across the country, as there is an increase in other ways of transportation, there should be a wide consideration of redesigning streets.

According to the article, “Writers’ Round-up: Advisory Bike Lanes,” advisory bike lanes allow cars to go down the middle of the street and become slow to yield to one another. (I had to research a concrete definition of an advisory bike lane) the photo supports the definition that an advisory bike lane is a bicycle lane into which motor vehicles may legally encroach, “the line demarcating the lane is dashed instead of solid,” (http://www.apbp.org/?page=2009_2_Advisory) Along with images to describe the benefits of a bike lane, it mentions that some changes need to be made to a road in order for them to be implemented into someone’s neighborhood, including “a narrow street, fairly low traffic volumes, either on-street parking that is mostly full all the time, or to be so narrow there’s no parking lane, and a narrow lane remaining between the dotted lines.” Based on the article before this, an advisory bike lane would not only help create a safer place for bicyclists to travel, but would also contribute to the building of narrower lanes, from 12 feet to 10 feet, for cars. This is a beneficial change for both car drivers and bicyclists.

In the article, “Portland Tries Out “Advisory Bike Lanes” the author discusses the implementation of advisory bike lanes in the Netherlands, providing an example of  a successful change in street design. However, this design is much different than the design plan from the previous article. The width of the car lane in this design will be 16 feet wide, and the bike lanes will be eight-feet wide.

Back to the United States, Alexandria is the first region in Virginia to install Advisory Bike Lanes. This street design is a solution to keep traffic calmer as well as designate bicycle facilities on Potomac Greens Drive. “They create a space on the roadway for cyclists while visually narrowing streets to slow drivers.” This reiterates what the previous articles have explained, and includes similar images and diagrams to inform their audience further.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8nwEkBR7NI This youtube video illustrates how the lanes function in the Netherlands, particularly focusing on how the lane works for bikes that interact with other bikes or cars, and how cars interact with bikes and other cars. The video stays stationary, with the same vantage point, showing the large amount of activity on just one spot of the advisory bike lane. The lane serves as a two-way for cars down the center, and as a two-way for bikes on either side.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1R3LgEN8ao This video also shows an advisory lane in the Netherlands, except this time on a busier road. This lane also serves as a two-way for cars, and if there is a biker in one of the two lanes on the outside of the car lane, the car needs to yield and go around the bicyclist. However, a motorcyclist cannot ride in the bike lanes since it is considered to have the same road responsibility as a car does.

Advisory bike lanes seem to balance out the roles of the road. In these videos, the bicyclists have just as much rights over the road as cars. The shift that takes place is that the bicyclists and the cars change roles, because the cars need to move around the cyclists that are in their designated lane. If this were to be a change in NYC, I think it would only work if there wasn’t such a large population. I believe this would work better in a smaller, less-congested area in a neighborhood and city. In NYC, there are way too many pedestrians, cars, buses, shuttles, and other forms of transportation that would make advisory bike lanes crowded and ineffective.

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