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Tag Archives | Traffic Calming

Streetfilms: A Montreal Intersection Morphs Into a Wonderful Neighborhood Space

On a Bixi bike excursion to get some ice cream in Montreal, my wife and I stumbled upon the intersection of Fairmount Avenue and Rue Clark, recently upgraded with colorful new street furniture, traffic calming treatments, and a two-way protected bike lane. The space is teeming with street life. When you arrive at this lovely place your first instinct is to stop, sit down, and enjoy.

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Interim pedestrian safety improvement at LaSalle Square

lasalle-square

From the Mayor’s Facebook page:

The City completed traffic changes to the intersection of Empire and Fountain Streets earlier today. Motor vehicle traffic proceeding from Empire Street is now required to use the traffic signal to turn left onto Fountain Street, improving pedestrian safety in the area.

This interim step will calm traffic coming from Broadway and Atwells Avenue into LaSalle Square making the pedestrian crossing on Fountain Street outside Hasbro safer and easier. Next spring, the City will begin work on the Downtown Circulator Phase III pdf which will rebuild LaSalle Square and other area streets entirely.

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News & Notes

Boxpark

Photo from Boxpark’s Facebook Page.

News & Notes→ Shipping Containers & Shopping – London’s ‘Retail Revolution’ Finally Opens [This Big City]

London’s first pop-up shopping mall has finally opened, after originally being slated for a Summer launch. Located in east London, at the intersection of Bethnal Green Road and Shoreditch High Street, ‘Boxpark‘ is made entirely from reused shipping containers and has been called a ‘retail revolution’ by its owners. I paid a visit last week to see if it lives up to this ambitious statement.

Route 195 land?


→The wisdom of crowds – The strange but extremely valuable science of how pedestrians behave [The Economist]

Messrs Helbing and Moussaid are at the cutting edge of a youngish field: understanding and modelling how pedestrians behave. Its purpose is not mere curiosity. Understanding pedestrian flows makes crowd events safer: knowing about the propensity of different nationalities to step in different directions could, for instance, matter to organisers of an event such as a football World Cup, where fans from various countries mingle. The odds of collisions go up if they do not share a reflex to move to one side. In a packed crowd, that could slow down lots of people.


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News & Notes

→ Laneways a resource for livable cities [The Star Phoenix]

Laneways [American = alleys] typically make up about 20 to 30 per cent of urban space – more than parks – yet about all they are used for is garbage pickup, utility lines and deliveries. They are often dirty, ugly and forbidding. In progressive cities a “livable laneways” movement is catching on and the greening of alleys is adding to the vibrancy of neighbourhoods, especially downtowns.


→ The Curious Case Of The Vanishing Chinese City [NPR]

“Anhui province is today announcing the cancellation of Chaohu city,” the broadcast said. It went on to explain that the city once known as Chaohu had been divided into three. The nearby cities of Hefei, Wuhu and Ma’anshan each absorbed a piece of territory. The broadcast confusingly described the move as “an inherent need at a certain level of economic growth.”

“Chaohu’s development hasn’t been good, but Hefei is industrializing and urbanizing. It needs land, so absorbing Chaohu will benefit Hefei. The government hopes that redistributing the land will improve the entire province’s GDP,” he says.

Central Falls on a Chinese scale.


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News & Notes


Budapest

Károly körút in Budapest, photo from Origo fotó

→ Fixing a Boulevard [Railzone]

The street is called Károly körút, which is a ring road around the historic centre of Pest, exactly where a former city wall used to stand. It is a major artery for road traffic, including still too many through trips (i.e. trips neither originating nor ending in the city centre itself). It is also a tram route, which was almost discarded following a new subway line construction, but now, partly due to the reconstruction project itself, the future of the line seems certain and an extension to North is planned.

Be sure to click through from the link to the before & after photos.


→ House Approves Extensions for the Federal Surface Transportation and Aviation Programs [America 2050]

Transportation advocates were gearing up for a big push to ensure that the federal surface transportation program did not expire at the end of the month, but in a remarkable show of common cause and swift action on Tuesday, the House unanimously approved a six-month extension of SAFETEA-LU, as well as a four-month extension of the authorizing legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Senate still has to pass this bill before it’s final, but Harry Reid has promised to move it through quickly, leaving transportation advocates breathing a little easier.


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Councilman Hassett moves to calm streets on Smith Hill

Bath Street

Bath Street on Smith Hill. Image from Google Street View

(PROVIDENCE) Council President Pro Tempore Terrence M. Hassett, who represents Ward 12, announced that traffic calming measures will be implemented in the coming weeks on several Smith Hill streets.

Hassett appropriated funds from the Community Development Block Grant earlier this year, for the purpose of installing motor vehicle speed control devices, also known as speed humps, on six streets where speeding motorists are a chronic problem. The construction of the speed humps will be accompanied by appropriate signage and road striping with reflective lines.

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Crossing is safer without the light

The traffic lights have been removed at the intersection of Weybosset, Broad, Empire, and Chestnut Streets.
Traffic lights at the intersection of Weybosset, Broad, Empire, and Chestnut Streets on Weybosset Hill have been removed.

As part of the Downtown Circulator Project, the traffic light at the intersection of Weybosset, Broad, Empire, and Chestnut Streets (Weybosset Hill for short) have been removed. The roads will be rebuilt (with Weybosset and Empire both becoming two-way) and new lights will be installed, probably sometime this fall. Curiously, the intersection, which I walk through multiple times a day, has become much better without the lights.

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Sidewalk over street in Providence too

Remember a couple weeks back when I posted this photo from a Streetsblog story of a sidewalk crossing a street in Copenhagen?

Copenhagen sidewalk
Photo from Streetsblog

This is what I said I liked about it:

This Copenhagen sidewalk completely flips the script on the relationship between cars and pedestrians at intersections. Rather than there being a curb, the sidewalk ending, and pedestrians moved into the street via a crosswalk; the sidewalk continues across the road and it is the car that enters the pedestrians domain in order to move through the intersection. Why are we not making all minor side streets have this relation to the main?

Well, duh, we have at least one of these in Providence, on Westminster Street at Orange Street:

Sidewalk on Westminster Street continues right across Orange Street.

It is not quite as seemlessly sidewalk as the Copenhagen example, but observing motorists navigating it, it works the same way. Motorist get a cue that they are moving off the street and change the way they move, slowing to look for pedestrians and using more caution than if the sidewalk ended and there was only paint on the roadway for pedestrians. The fact that the sidewalk is at a higher level than the street also means that cars must slow to mount it. Meaning it acts as a sort of speed bump.

This should be firmly planted in the city’s road design bag of tricks. Imagine if all the alleys on Atwells worked this way for example; cars had to slow to cross the sidewalk rather than the other way around.

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News & Notes

→ Seniors and the City [Governing]

Have you ever thought the walk signs at street corners weren’t long enough? Probably not. But if you’re over 65 years old, it may be a different matter. What seems like a reasonable amount of time to cross a street is more like an Olympic sprint for the elderly. It’s one of numerous issues that have grown in importance as our population not only ages but becomes increasingly concentrated in cities.

In 2006, just 11 percent of the global population was over the age of 60, but the number is expected to double by 2050, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the number of people living in cities continues to rise. In North America, 81 percent of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and is expected to reach 87 percent by 2030.


→ Gridlock Sam: Too Big to Fall [Blueprint America]

…as pointed out in a new book, Too Big to Fall by Barry LePatner, there are tens of thousands of fracture critical bridges in the United States and nearly 8,000 are structurally deficient, which is a recipe for disaster.

Using the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis as a starting point, Barry LePatner lays out how our nation has neglected a majority of our 6,000 spans. LePatner presents a complete, well-researched story about the nation’s transportation infrastructure. This book is a must read for anyone in engineering, construction, architecture, and planning. Frankly, it is a must read for any American who is concerned about the continuing strength of our economy and our quality of life.

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You can’t just paint a roundabout

From somewhere in Europe we see a roundabout that is simply painted onto an intersection. Fast and cheap traffic calming perhaps, but it is clear from the video that it is confusing to some people. Although it has served the purpose of calming traffic, while confusing, traffic is moving slow and the video does not show many if any collisions. There are however a few cars that plow straight through without a care in the world that are accidents waiting to happen no doubt.

This may also point out something about roadmarkings in general. It seems that many drivers simply did not see the paint on the pavement until they were right on top of it, also, they seem to have not seen the roundabout sign posted at the intersection. Our accommodations for pedestrians tend to be roadmarkings and signs.

This video shows, that with proper physical interventions, people are able to figure out that they are in a roundabout and understand how to use it.

If drivers are blinded to roadmarkings and signs as the first video seems to indicate, perhaps those should not be the entirety of what we rely on to make safe accommodations for pedestrians.

Reader submission via: How We Drive

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Snow as traffic calming

Currently, due to the snow, Atwells Avenue is a good 4 to 6 or more feet narrower than usual. Yet, cars are able to park on both sides and traffic is able to flow smoothly in both directions (in most areas, some places the snow is totally out of control). Which proves my point that the road is too wide and should be narrowed. A narrower Atwells makes the traffic move more carefully, which means slower, which makes the road safer for pedestrians. The traffic moves so slow, that bikes can take the lane and comfortably move with traffic outside the door zone.

An Atwells Avenue that is consciously narrowed (not narrowed by the happenstance of snow) would also of course allow for wider sidewalks which would be attractive to the restaurants and retail, especially those that want outdoor seating. And when it inevitably snows again, a wider sidewalk is better able to act a holding area for snow moved from the roads and the sidewalks.

With traffic moving slower, the areas where the sidewalks are clear are almost pleasant, the sidewalks too are narrowed, but it is nice that the traffic is moving slower. Of course…

…there remain many places where the sidewalks aren’t clear. Even with traffic moving slower on narrowed streets, walking in the street is most certainly not pleasant.

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News & Notes

→ Ad Nauseam 2010: The Year in Car Commercials [DC.Streetsblog]

Car sales are up, auto shows are packing them in, and the GM IPO was oversubscribed, but there may be no surer indicator of the auto industry’s recovery than the renewed avalanche of car ads rumbling across every medium. And there’s no better way to get a glimpse of what a born-again car culture might look like than to stay on the couch for a spell, un-mute the TV, and watch—that’s right, on purpose—a sample of 2010’s ads selling us our car-centric way of life. Here are some of the year’s most egregious attempts to get us into the dealership by conflating car ownership with American values.

→ Neighbors won fight for narrower Willy St. — now they want even more [The Capital Times, Madison, WI]

It is a walkable commercial and residential strip that embodies the cityscapes lauded as new urbanism by city planners. It’s also the main drag in a neighborhood that’s home to many of the city’s most outspoken activists. So when the aging infrastructure of Williamson Street on Madison’s east side is scheduled for a rebuild, you’d better believe its citizens will have their say. Speak they have, and managed the unlikely feat of getting the street scheduled for narrowing.

But some say that’s not enough.

→ How Shared Space Challenges Conventional Thinking about Transportation Design [Planetizen]

Before he died in 2008, the great Dutch street designer and engineer, Hans Monderman, re-introduced to the world the concept of shared spaces as the appropriate basis for designing urban streets. Shared space is based on the idea of self enforcing use of public spaces by different types of users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit and private vehicle operators. The idea has caught the imagination of some designers in the USA, but it is still largely treated as a design style rather than for what it really is – a fundamental rethinking of the underlying philosophy related to the design and operation of transportation facilities.

→ As She Walks Out the Door, (CT) Gov. Rell Makes it Safer to Walk Down the Street [Mobilizing the Region]

On Friday, outgoing Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell announced significant changes to ConnDOT’s bike and pedestrian policies aimed to improve the delivery of projects, increase the pot of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects and enhance the existing design manual so cyclists and pedestrians are fully considered as part of the design process, as required by the 2009 Complete Streets Law.

→ Can streetcars save America’s cities? [CNN]

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StreetFilms: Traffic Calming Postcards from London

As we look towards rebuilding a bunch of former streets in the 195 corridor, and as we simply turn our attention back to our aging infrastructure, this video from London is timely.

Sure, Providence is no London, but we are an old historic city, with small circuitous streets, and we have a need to balance the needs of automobiles, pedestrians, and cyclists. We’re much like London, simply at a smaller scale.

One of the things that I really like about what London is doing is reducing the clutter on the sidewalks (the pavements as the narrator calls them). Combining lamposts and street signs with trash barrels and bike racks makes the sidewalk much easier to navigate and makes for less infrastructure needing maintenance.

Also, simply calming traffic. We posted the 20’s plenty video where they looked at reducing speeds. You can legislate any speed limit you want (in Providence it is 25mph), but if the street is built for speed, drivers will move at the speed the street is built for. How many people drive 25mph on North Main Street or Memorial Blvd. for instance?

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