Categories

Tag Archives | Traffic

News & Notes

A couple of red traffic lights against a blue sky

Photo (cc) Horia Varlan

Better Cities & Towns: The benefits of removing stop lights

In the 1990s, the City of Philadelphia removed 800 traffic lights. Traffic flow improved and accidents declined by 26 percent in these intersections.

Recently, Wayne State researchers recommended that Detroit remove 460 signals, or 30 percent of its total inventory. And that figure may underestimate removable signals, the researchers note.

For pedestrians, four-way stops are much better—because every automobile has to come to a complete stop and traffic is calmed.

For pedestrians, removing traffic signals also helps maintain their right-of-way. If one approaches a stop light and is unable to reach the beg-button before the light changes, the red hand tells pedetrains and motorists that the pedestrian is not allowed to cross, even if they are trying to cross with the green which they should be allowed to do by right. Even if the walk-light actuates, turning drivers interpret their green as their right-of-way and treat the pedestrian as secondary.

A non-signalized intersection gives pedestrians the right-of-way.


The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: One-way streets are failing their cities

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.

So all the streets that were made one way on Federal Hill to deter drug activity, actually made it worse? Thanks NIMBYs.


Continue Reading →

16

News & Notes

chattanooga-flickr

Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo (cc) Dave Lawrence.

CityLab: Why Housing Is Key to Chattanooga’s Tech-Hub Ambitions

Chattanooga is aiming to build on the reputation it’s earned from its world-class broadband service. The goal is to make the city a sustainable innovation hub, showing that it’s a well-rounded city rather than a one-trick pony. Evidence of this forward-thinking strategy can be seen in an ambitious expansion of housing downtown—known locally as the City Center—which is aimed at attracting young professionals that value walkable urban cores.

The latest downtown housing effort began in 2013, three years after the city’s gigabit Internet was first introduced. The community was of course enthused by the changes they were seeing in the city. But to local policymakers, the level of housing density in downtown Chattanooga was far from ideal. Over 50,000 people showed up to work there each day, but a dearth of adequate housing prevented many of them from moving there. Over the course of several months, more than 70 local stakeholders came together to identify 22 downtown buildings that needed to be remodeled (some razed) to make room for new housing.


The Boston Globe: A new age for an old town

There have been three great ages of development in modern Boston. The first began after the Back Bay was filled in the late 19th century, a radical change that triggered a historic construction boom. The second came in the 1960s and ’70s, when a “high spine” of office towers — stretching from the financial district to the Pru — began to rise over an old town.

The third is now.

Its businesses and population on the rise, Boston is in the midst of a building spree whose enormity, pace, and geographic sweep are redefining the skyline faster than any period since the early Industrial Age.


Continue Reading →

0

Pedestrians struck in Providence and Pawtucket over the weekend

WJAR reports that two people were struck by a driver who stopped on the Point Street Bridge on Saturday afternoon:

In Providence, police tell NBC 10 two pedestrians were struck on Saturday shortly after 5:00 p.m. on the Point Street Bridge with their backs facing traffic. The operator of the vehicle stopped and told police that he was unable to see the two walking in the road because of heavy sun glare.

The pair were transported to Rhode Island Hospital with minor injuries and the driver is not facing any charges. Police noted that the sidewalks were passable and are not sure why the two were walking in the road.

I have not been on the Point Street Bridge lately; does anyone know if it is true that the sidewalks there are “passable?”

Update: A reader challenges the Police Department’s claim that the Point Street Bridge sidewalks are passable, more photos.

point-street-bridge-002

ProJo reports that a man was struck by a hit and run driver on Newport Avenue in Pawtucket early Saturday morning:

The victim, who is being identified only as a 35-year-old Pawtucket man, was walking south near 1114 Newport Avenue sometime between 1 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. when he was hit by a vehicle also travelling south, according to an email from Pawtucket Police Detective Maj. Arthur Martins.

WJAR says there was another hit and run on Newport Avenue in Pawtucket later Saturday afternoon.

20

New week, new snowstorm

snow-tree

Providence schools closed on Monday, parking bans starts at 12:01am Monday, trash/recycling collection delayed one day.

Helpful Links:

More information from the City of Providence:


Providence Public Schools Closed Tomorrow, Monday Feb. 9, 2015

Citywide Parking Ban in Effect at 12:01 AM on Monday – Garbage and Recycling Collection on Holiday Schedule

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today announced a series of actions in response to a winter storm expected to escalate in the early hours of Monday, February 9 and continue through the day.

Providence Public Schools and afterschool activities are canceled Monday, February 9, 2015. City Recreation Centers will be closed Monday as well.

A citywide parking ban will go into effect at 12:01AM on Monday, February 9 and remain in effect until further notice. Residents with overnight parking passes are advised that they cannot park on the street during the duration of the citywide parking ban. All vehicles parked on the street in violation of the citywide parking ban will be ticketed and towed to ensure that roadways can be plowed.

Continue Reading →

0

I propose 1-3 years in prison for parking on the sidewalk

sidewalk-parking-images

State Senator Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) has proposed legislation to ban “unlawful interference with traffic.” The Senator says he is introducing this legislation in light “recent demonstrations that have shut down highways in some U.S. communities” that “have the potential to threaten the public welfare.”

Fare enough, there are concerns that recent protests in Boston may have delayed care for a patient travelling in an ambulance to Boston.

Under the Raptakis legislation, a person will be found to have committed the crime of unlawful interference with traffic if he or she “stands, sits, kneels or otherwise loiters on any highway or roadway under such circumstances that the conduct could reasonably be construed as interfering with the lawful movement of traffic” or if that action causes “the interruption, obstruction, distraction or delay of any motorist operating a motor vehicle” on the roadway or highway.

Criminalizing being in the roadway as “reasonably construed” by law-enforcement seems a dangerous precedent to me.

Continue Reading →

23

Traffic changes coming to Exchange Terrace

exchange-terrace

From the City:


Changes to Traffic Pattern around Kennedy Plaza Beginning December 22

The City of Providence today announced upcoming changes to the traffic pattern on Exchange Terrace. Beginning Monday morning, December 22, Exchange Terrace (East Approach to Exchange Street) will be changed to accommodate 2-way traffic. The remainder of Exchange Terrace will allow two-way traffic later in 2015 when improvements to Emmitt Square are completed.

In preparation for this change, the southern portion of Exchange Terrace (East Approach to Exchange St.) will be barreled off Thursday morning, December 18, to allow westbound traffic to become used to driving on the northern part of Exchange Terrace prior to the switch.

There is a variable message board facing the westbound approach at the Exchange Street/Steeple St. intersection alerting motorists of the change in traffic pattern.

12

News & Notes

broadway-snow

Broadway

The Boston Globe: Lower rents, wide choices draw tenants to Route 128

Kendall Square and the Innovation District may be the hip places to be, especially for tech companies, but a mini-revival of sorts is under way along America’s original technology highway.

The western suburbs around Route 128 are experiencing a building boom, with new headquarters for growing companies such as TripAdvisor and Vistaprint among five huge developments under construction in Needham, Waltham, and neighboring towns.

But, but, but… Providence. We don’t necessarily have to give everyone $75 million to move here, the Assembly knows that, don’t they?


ABC News: More Prefer Public Transit to Road Building

Americans in an ABC News/Washington Post poll favor expanded public transportation options over road building in government efforts to reduce traffic congestion. But where they live makes a difference.

Overall, 54 percent prefer focusing on public transit, such as trains and buses, while four in ten say the government should focus on expanding and building roads instead. Preference for public transit, though, ranges from 61 percent of urban residents to 52 percent of suburbanites and 49 percent of people in rural areas.


Continue Reading →

2

News & Notes

eddy-street

Eddy Street in Providence. Image from Google Street View.

CityLab: Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now

Unfortunately, trained to expect this sort of behavior, highway engineers apply the same logic to the design of city streets, where people behave in an entirely different way. On city streets, most drivers ignore posted speed limits, and instead drive the speed at which they feel safe. That speed is set by the cues provided by the environment. Are there other cars near me? Is an intersection approaching? Can I see around that corner? Are there trees and buildings near the road? Are there people walking or biking nearby? And: How wide is my lane?

When lanes are built too wide, pedestrians are forced to walk further across streets on which cars are moving too fast and bikes don’t fit.
All of these factors matter, and others, too. The simplest one to discuss, and probably the most impactful, is lane width. When lanes are built too wide, many bad things happen. In a sentence: pedestrians are forced to walk further across streets on which cars are moving too fast and bikes don’t fit.

As with most other State and County road departments across the country, RIDOT mostly insists that all roads should strive for 12′ lanes and the Providence DPW does not much disagree.


BuzzFeed News: The Hidden Reason Why Rent Is So Expensive In Cities: Parking Spaces

While many factors contribute to drive up the price of rents, parking is among the most significant, according to University of California Los Angeles professor and renowned parking guru Donald Shoup. BuzzFeed News sat down with Shoup during the CityLab 2014 conference in Los Angeles Monday to talk about how parking makes housing more expensive. His point: “It’s unfair to have cities where parking is free for cars and housing is expensive for people.”


Continue Reading →

0

News & Notes

flickr-kansas-city

Kansas City. (cc) Zach Werner

The New York Times: Millennials Going to Kansas City, to Live and Work

On one of the hottest days of the year in mid-July, Michael Knight, a real estate developer, made note of the torn-up street outside Commerce Tower, which opened in 1965 as this region’s first modern high-rise office structure with a glass curtain wall.

Workers were preparing the road for Kansas City’s $100 million streetcar starter line, which will begin running in 2015. It will include a stop right outside the 30-story office building, and the streetcar is one reason among many that the Commerce Tower Group, of which Mr. Knight is a partner, acquired the property just 70 days after he walked through it for the first time a year ago.

In October, the company plans to begin converting the 500,000-square-foot tower into a $90 million vertical city of residential and office space, and retailing and restaurants. The renovation will also include a Park University satellite location, which already operates in the building, and an early childhood school, among other amenities like a fitness center and a rooftop gathering spot.

I think it is cool that Knight Rider went into real estate.

The number of people living in the central business district has increased about 50 percent, to 20,000, since 2000, according to the Downtown Council of Kansas City. Apartment developers added more than 6,130 units from 2002 through 2012, and occupancy is above 95 percent, according to the Kansas City office of Cassidy Turley, a real estate brokerage firm.

Officials would like to see the current number of downtown residents double.

Officials in Providence seem to have no goals whatsoever about increasing the population in Providence, even with similar demand for downtown living as what is seen in Kansas City.


Governing: Do Cities Really Want Economic Development?

So many cities and regions continue to struggle economically. Even within nominally well-performing places there are pockets that have been left behind. Most of the have-nots in the current economy have been struggling for an extended period of time, often in spite of enormous efforts to bring positive change.

Why is this? Perhaps we need to consider the possibility that these places are getting exactly the results they want: Maybe they actually don’t want economic development.

Jane Jacobs took it even further. As she noted in The Economy of Cities, “Economic development, whenever and wherever it occurs, is profoundly subversive of the status quo.” And it isn’t hard to figure out that even in cities and states with serious problems, many people inside the system are benefiting from the status quo.

This is a something that I’ve been hearing more of around Providence lately; some feel that people in Rhode Island don’t actually want anyone to be successful, especially if those people are from away. I think of the General Assembly reading the Jacobs quote.


Continue Reading →

0

News & Notes

IMG_8634.JPG

Bloomberg: Icahn Urges Family Dollar CEO to Seek Sale ‘Immediately’

The retailer has been struggling to compete with rival discounters, drugstores and big-box retailers such as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. To combat slumping sales, Family Dollar embarked on a review of its business this year. As part of its turnaround plan, the company is closing about 370 underperforming stores and opening fewer new ones. It’s also lowering prices in a bid to entice shoppers.

‘Consistently Underperformed’

Family Dollar has “consistently underperformed its peers” in same-store sales, total revenue growth, sales per store, sales per square foot, operating margins and capital-structure efficiency, Icahn wrote in the letter, which opened by remarking on the “cordial nature” of the previous night’s discussion.

Meanwhile, in Providence we’re throwing out our zoning regulations to accomodate the “proven business model” of this “consistently underperforming” retailer. Olneyville risks ending up with an empty big box more craptacular than the building that was torn down to make way for it.

Providence Business News: Solomon proposes citywide 15-year tax stabilization plan

“I want to send a loud and clear message to the development community that Providence is open for business,” Solomon said in the news release. “If we don’t bring certainty to this process we are losing a once in a lifetime opportunity to grow our tax base, grow our population and create much needed jobs. I plan to reach out to the developers who have expressed frustration with the process to assure them my plan will remove the politics and uncertainty that has plagued this city for far too long.”

The new system would be based on recommendations issued earlier this year by an economic development task force formed by the city council partly in response to the continued vacancy of the Industrial Trust building.

Continue Reading →

0

News & Notes

bikes-flickr

Photo (cc) Cristina Valencia

The Washington Post: Actually, cyclists make city streets safer

In the hysteria that predated the launch of New York’s bike-sharing system last year, many critics cried that the bikes would make the city’s streets less safe. All those cyclists wouldn’t be wearing helmets! They’d have no insurance! Accidents would skyrocket, and with them lawsuits against the city. Fatalities would triple!

The system’s safety record quickly turned out to be less sensational. But this was as bike advocates expected. Biking — as with walking — offers a prime example of the power of crowds. As more people bike and walk, cycling and pedestrian fatalities actually decline. That’s because the more people bike and walk, the more drivers become attuned to their presence (either on sidewalks or road shoulders), and the more cities are likely to invest in the kind of infrastructure explicitly meant to protect them (all of which further encourages more cyclists and pedestrians).


The Boston Globe: Boston’s parking solution is not more parking

Northeastern University professor Stephanie Pollack has studied gentrification around transit stops across the country, and she’s found that one of the biggest mistakes municipalities make is requiring too much parking. Pollack’s data show that, given the choice, residents will self-select: Heavy drivers choose to live in homes that provide parking, and residents who don’t own cars will choose transit-oriented, low-parking homes. This is especially true for renters. So the answer to an urban parking crunch isn’t adding supply. It’s recognizing that parking demand isn’t monolithic. Urban parking is a choice, and if Boston really does have too many cars already, the answer isn’t to build room for more.

Continue Reading →

2

ProJo: Pedestrian safety on Providence’s Federal Hill takes giant step forward

atwells-bump-out-001

In 2013 the state, in cooperation with the city, installed on Atwells 14 sidewalk “bumpouts,” 7 neon green crosswalk signs that are supposed to be more vivid than the standard highway orange, and other signs; upgraded some pedestrian-crossing signals; and restriped to create a 3-foot buffer zone on both sides of the avenue.

Nothing has been done to improve pedestrian safety at the intersection of Atwells and Dean, which is basically an extention of the Route 6/10 highway off-ramp.

Scheduled this year are the installation of additional traffic signal improvements, including 12 unusual pedestrian crossing signals; the painting of “25 mph,” the speed limit, and “PED XING” on the pavement; and the painting of 11 additional crosswalks.

The pedestrian crossing signal, called a “rectangular rapid flashing beacon,” would be unique in Rhode Island. It is a pedestrian-activated LED array attached to a pedestrian crossing sign that irregularly flashes an amber or white light that Urso said is impossible for a motorist to ignore.

Now if we can just stop people getting stabbed to death and drunks driving up on the sidewalks, it’ll be a nice place.

11

Snowing again! Parking ban at 6pm, more…

Posted on February 15, 2014

2014-0215-snow

You know the drill, info from the City:


Providence Declares Citywide Parking Ban Beginning at 6PM Tonight, Saturday, Feb. 15

Travel is discouraged this evening due to near blizzard-like conditions.

In preparation for a snowstorm that is forecast to intensify from 5PM – 11PM this evening with near blizzard-like conditions, the City of Providence has declared a citywide parking ban beginning at 6PM tonight, Saturday, February 15. The parking ban will remain in effect until further notice. Cars in violation of the citywide parking ban will be ticketed and towed to ensure that roadways can be plowed. Cars parked in school parking lots overnight will also be ticketed and towed.

Snow is forecast to intensify dramatically during the evening hours, with possible rates of 1-3 inches per hour. Whiteout conditions are expected with an increasing northeasterly wind. Travel will be hazardous. Drivers and pedestrians are advised not to travel this evening given the rapidly deteriorating conditions.

The Department of Public Works has prepared all equipment and personnel to respond to the storm. The City’s Emergency Operations Center will be partially activated with Providence Emergency Management staff.

Residents can stay up to date on the latest storm developments from the City by using the filter #PVDsnow on Twitter and following the accounts of Mayor Taveras and PEMA.

Continue Reading →

0

Temporary traffic changes coming, maybe they should be permanent

francis-exchange

The City is instituting some traffic changes for the days following Christmas due to expected high levels of pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the area of the Convention Center and Providence Place:

Temporary Traffic Changes Planned for Three Days Following Christmas

PROVIDENCE, RI – To accommodate an anticipated increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic following Christmas Day, the City of Providence has planned traffic changes and increased police details for downtown Providence on Thursday, December 26, Friday, December 27, and Saturday, December 28.

On those three days, from 11AM to 7PM, vehicles will be prohibited from making a left-hand turn onto Francis Street from the I-95 highway ramps. Vehicles will also be prohibited from taking a left-hand turn onto Francis Street from Finance Way.

Vehicles approaching from the I-95 highway ramps will continue east on Memorial Boulevard and be directed to turn left onto Exchange Street, left onto Finance Way, and right onto Francis Street. Vehicles approaching from Finance Way will be directed to turn right onto Francis Street. Pedestrians and drivers should look for message boards and temporary signage.

Continue Reading →

12

State defiantly moves ahead with surface parking

state-house-parking

In spite of Providence Zoning rules and Capital Center rules forbidding it, the State is moving ahead with plans to expand a surface parking lot on the State House grounds and building a new surface parking lot adjacent to the State House.

ecoRI reports that the Department of Administration (DOA) has already started work on expanding the Assembly Members parking lot on the State House grounds. “Work on the two tiers of new parking to the east of the Statehouse, along Smith Street, will replace 2,000 square feet of grass with some 40 parking spaces.”

Meanwhile, as we discussed in July, the DOA has spent $3.1 million purchasing property along Francis Street next to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium for even more surface parking.

The Chairman of the Capital Center Commission, Deming Sherman is none to happy about all this. Sherman told The Providence Journal that there should be less parking around the State House, not more and that a parking garage should be built behind the DOA building.

When the State restarted the project to expand the parking lot on the State House lawn in June of this year, Sherman contended that the plan had to be submitted to the Capital Center Commission for review, the DOA claims that their authority supercedes the Capital Center Commission (which was created by the State) as well as City zoning.

Continue Reading →

23

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 which will rebuild LaSalle Square and other area streets entirely.

1

Barry Schiller: Providence Planning Hosts Meeting on Kennedy Plaza, Downtown Circulation

circulator-meeting

Barry Schiller, a retired Rhode Island College math professor, is a long-time member of the State Planning Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee. He also was on the RIPTA Board of Directors 1995-1999.

Overall: good ideas on the parts of the project about 2-way streets and pedestrian and bike improvements around downtown, but on Kennedy Plaza, a net loss for bus riders, but not as much as once feared.

The project: extend 2-way on Empire, 2-way on Dorrance in front of the Biltmore, and on Exchange Terrace on north side of Burnside Park; narrow Fountain Street by widening sidewalk, maybe include a bike lane and add “public space” at the squares on both ends (La Salle Square, Emmet Square) to slow traffic and be much more pedestrian friendly;

Kennedy Plaza: no change in RIPTA waiting room but the adjacent plaza will have much more public space by eliminating the inner berths and bus lanes. Thus we’d go from 8 bus-only lanes to 4; possible amenities added such as more seating, plantings, public art, and maybe more shelters if funding permits. The 16 current bus berths there now (4 sets of 4 each) would be reduced to 10 – 4 eastbound on the north side, 5 (one more than now) westbound on the south side, and one new one on Exchange Street across from the court house. The loss of berths would be partly made up by another bus berth up the hill on the little street where the trolleys now stop, and another new berth behind the Q stop on Exchange St where the Newport buses stop. Thus there is a net loss of 4 berths. If more berths are ever needed, likely to be on north side of Burnside Park on Exchange Terrace, or up Exchange Street near Memorial Blvd by the undeveloped triangle of land there.

Unresolved issues: what to do with intercity Peter Pan/Greyhound buses; whether there will be a fence separating the bus lane from Washington Street traffic which could help direct pedestrian crossings; funding for more shelters; who is in charge of snow removal.

Continue Reading →

2