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Author Topic: Our streets are morbidly obese  (Read 6903 times)
TheTed
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« on: September 11, 2009, 10:57:10 am »

This blog post is about St. Louis and OKC, but it definitely applies to downtown Tulsa as well.


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St. Louis streets are fat, obese, HUGE! They are literally squeezing the life out of downtown. When 900,000 people were driving their 1954 Fords to and from work in the CBD each day I understand the pressure to provide capacity. Today? It's simply ridiculous. Much the same way that WalMart parking lots are purposely built to accommodate Black Friday crowds, our downtown streets are built and maintained to cater to suburban drivers on Cardinals game days.

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Urban planner Jeff Speck is currently consulting on improving the pedestrian experience in Oklahoma City might as well be talking about St. Louis: "To be walkable, a street needs to be safe, comfortable and interesting,” Speck reported to OKC. "You guys lose it at safe.” "Then you look at the traffic counts, and only a few carrying 10,000 a day. And 10,000 cars a day is easily handled by a two-lane road.”

http://www.stlurbanworkshop.com/2009/04/st-louis-streets-are-morbidly-obese_12.html

We could turn all of our four-lane one ways into two-lane boulevards with protected bike lanes and it would have an extremely minute impact on traffic. Denver Avenue seems to be the only downtown street that's close to the correct size for the amount of traffic. Every other street downtown, even at 5:15pm, pedestrians can easily cross against the light.

Is there a place to find traffic counts for some of our downtown streets? I'd really be interested in seeing those numbers.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2009, 11:00:18 am by TheTed » Logged

 
OpenYourEyesTulsa
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2009, 11:33:58 am »

We could turn all of our four-lane one ways into two-lane boulevards with protected bike lanes

I like the one way streets.  It is way easier to get around.  I agree with the bike lines.  Just add them to the one way streets we have.
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brianh
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2009, 11:45:25 am »

Since we already have the giant streets, I think we should slant all the parking like they have on main street in the Brady district.
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TheTed
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2009, 12:25:14 pm »

I like the one way streets.  It is way easier to get around.  I agree with the bike lines.  Just add them to the one way streets we have.
I don't necessarily dislike one-way streets. It's just the way we have them configured now they encourage people to speed and they make it harder for pedestrians to cross and less friendly to cyclists as someone tries to crowd by in the lane you're biking in despite there being two other cars total in the three remaining lanes.

If they were two-lane one-ways with bike lanes and streetscaping, that would be a big improvement. Just some cues to tell drivers "You're downtown. You can't drive 40mph anymore."
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TheTed
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2009, 12:27:53 pm »

Since we already have the giant streets, I think we should slant all the parking like they have on main street in the Brady district.

That would be a good start and something that was mentioned by Mr. Speck in his OKC study. Apparently they used to do that back in the heyday of downtown OKC. I always drive slower on streets with slanted parking because there's a good chance somebody will back out into your path.
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FOTD
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2009, 01:08:51 pm »

 Cheesy You do understand that a city has to have streets that fit it's citizenry don't you?

* fat.jpg (13.09 KB - downloaded 243 times.)
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TheArtist
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2009, 01:26:37 pm »

I like the one way streets.  It is way easier to get around.  I agree with the bike lines.  Just add them to the one way streets we have.

Come a little closer and let me strangle you  Shocked....I despise one way streets. And I cant for the life of me figure out how they can make it easier to get around? Unless you both, know exactly where your going, and, have the one ways memorized, its more difficult because you cant directly go where your going lol. You have to loop around, often several times. Ooops cant go down that street. Well I will go down one then turn right and loop back around, oops no cant turn right there its a one way street too. Ok Turned right, now need to turn right again,,,, oops thats a one way the wrong direction too. Or,,, the street is two lway, but right where I need to go it turns into a one way the opposite direction. Or,,, I need to go to a place to the right, dont see any parking spaces on that street, but oooh, there is one(or a parking lot) to the left, but dang, its one way and I would have to loop all around to get back to it.   With two way streets you have NONE of that. You just head directly to your destination, and your there.  No trying to find an address while also trying to make sure you arent going to end up going wrong way down a street. I am not going to sit around memorizing which streets are one way, which parts of them are one way, and which particular direction they go. My poor little brain just doesnt work that way lol. I just want normal, predictable streets. Pleeeease. Makes about as much sense as having one way sidewalks... nope cant walk down that street this direction, have to go around.   
« Last Edit: September 11, 2009, 01:30:09 pm by TheArtist » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2009, 09:34:09 pm »

Makes about as much sense as having one way sidewalks... nope cant walk down that street this direction, have to go around.   

You didn't have up staircases and down staircases in jr high/high school?
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Red Arrow
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2009, 10:43:16 pm »

One way streets:

Can be predictable, especially on a grid like Tulsa has. Navigation does not need to be mentally challenging.  The fact that Tulsa may not have done it right is not reason to condemn the concept.

Allow more street parking on a narrow street than a 2 way street. I am thinking of angled parking on one or both sides with one lane left for traffic and maybe a bike lane.  This reduces the need for the dreaded..... parking lot.

Reduce the occurrence of collisions from left turns from the opposite direction.

Can be used to intentionally restrict traffic.  The anti-car crowd should actually endorse this as it can make the city car unfriendly.

Reduce the real estate required by the entrances and exits to the expressways.  Two way streets would require more exits and entrances or wider streets for the same traffic flow. I recognize that reducing the capacity of our expressways and streets to make the city car unfriendly is a goal of many on this forum.


Can make traffic flow easier:  (This is admittedly not a goal of many on this forum.)

Traffic lights can be timed.  Timed lights promote speeds that match the light timing.  Timed lights do lose effectiveness with an over crowded street.

Left turns do not have to be coordinated with opposing direction traffic, reducing the amount time cars spend sitting at idle burning gas.  Think Ozone.  Cars making a loop around a block would partially offset this but I believe not waiting for a left turn would be in our favor concerning emissions.





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godboko71
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2009, 06:36:26 am »

I think the only reason people have issues with one way streets downtown is because we have changed some streets back to two way roads, which has "messed" up the flow. If we went back to mostly or all one ways downtown the pattern would be predictable and easier to remember.

Not only that but traffic would be easier to control with one way streets.

Not sure I am a huge fan of the bike lane idea, if we kept roads one way, there should almost always be another lane for cars to pass safely. I would like to see wider sidewalks that are friendly to foot traffic, carts, and booth type businesses. I do like the idea of angled parking though.
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Ed W
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2009, 08:22:33 am »

Bike lanes are built for the convenience of motorists, not cyclists.  They introduce more problems than they solve, particularly at intersections.  In CA, motorists are expected to merge into the bike lane before making a right turn.  In OR, motorists are obligated to stay out of the lane until they turn right, and they're supposed to yield to bicycles in that lane.  Advocates rightly call these bike lanes at intersections "coffin corners."  A bike lane at an intersection makes crossing movement more complicated rather than less, and as we all know, intersections are where the crashes occur. 

Portland - if I recall right - is touting the blue bike box as a safety improvement.  It's a triumph of hype and wishful thinking over any real study of their efficacy.

Amsterdam and NYC have their separated cycletracks that - like bike lanes - offer the illusion of safety without actually delivering it. 

If you want to increase bicycle mode share in the downtown area consider the following:  add bike parking as part of the city building codes, reduce the outside lane width to 10 feet thereby encouraging motor traffic to take the wider left lane, make traffic signals that reliably detect the presence of bicyclists, provide funding for Smart Cycling classes, and finally, talk to Ren Barger at the Tulsa Hub.  Ren absolutely bubbles with ideas!

Before I forget, take a look at the bike lanes the city already has.  There's one along Archer, Mohawk Blvd, and defacto ones (wide shoulders) on Avery Drive and 46th St North.  The one on Archer is poorly designed as it varies from zero to three feet wide and is never maintained.  It provides convenient parking too.  The others are equally neglected, though it must be said that Tulsa County sweeps Avery Drive once or twice a year.  The lanes are poorly designed and never maintained, yet we're supposed to believe that if there are more of them somehow conditions will improve. 

One of the best-kept secrets in cycling is that we need cars to sweep the lanes clear of debris and to smooth the pavement surface over time.  Take a look at the shoulder along 46th Street North.  As you drive by at 50mph, it looks perfectly usable, but on a bicycle it's like riding on cobblestones.  The surface is extremely rough from weathering.

Sure, bike lanes look nice on a drawing along with landscaping and such.  But they don't provide any real safety improvements for cyclists, and may draw the unwary into a false sense of security.
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2009, 09:54:11 am »


If you want to increase bicycle mode share in the downtown area consider the following:  add bike parking as part of the city building codes,

Sure, bike lanes look nice on a drawing along with landscaping and such.  But they don't provide any real safety improvements for cyclists, and may draw the unwary into a false sense of security.

Bicycle parking will need to be more than the Elementary School bike racks of the 60s.  When I worked at the City Plex a few years ago, a room in the building was provided for bicyclists who were concerned that their expensive bikes would be molested if they were merely locked up to the outdoor racks.  I thought that was a nice service to the tenants.  A place to get a shower and change clothes is also necessary most of the year in Tulsa. 

Ed, you make excellent points on the safety of bike lanes.  Unfortunately, they are the buzz word of non-riders trying to promote bike friendly roads.  If the bicycle community is in agreement with your philosophy, the clubs and riders should (attempt) to present a uniform program that would promote safety and a smooth integration of bicycles and motorized traffic while eliminating the bike lane concept.  I am sure education on both sides would be an important part.

I believe that one reason motorists have little tolerance for bicycles on roads is that anyone can go buy a bicycle and ride on the street. Riders expect courtesy of motorists but then frequently disregard traffic rules.  Perhaps bicycles should be tagged like a car and bicyclists should have a bicycle driver's license.  The community where I grew up required bicycles to have  a license tag.  It was mostly aimed at kids but adults were also required to have a tag.  To get a tag for your bicycle, you had to pass a short test showing you could control your vehicle and knew at least the basic rules of the road.  It was issued by the township police department.  I have brought this up on this forum before to crys of that is not a community option.  OK, let the state do it.  Most of the car tag fees do not go to road maintenance.  The fees are a tax for the privilege of operating your car on the road.  Requiring a tag for bicycles could take away some of the resentment of motorists for bicycles demanding the same rights as motorists.  Bicyclists should also be subject to traffic law enforcement.  Yep, a ticket for running a stop sign or red light.  Speeding through a school zone on a bicycle would get just as big a fine as in a motor vehicle.  With equal rights go equal responsibility.  Most of the responsible riders should not have a problem with this concept.

Disclaimer:  I am not presently a bike rider.
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Ed W
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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2009, 10:46:14 am »

(Disclaimer:  I am not presently a bike rider either - at least until my knees and shoulder heal.  And no, it wasn't a crash.  It came from laying floor tile for She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.  This getting old stuff sucks.)

Most of the cities don't have a tag requirement for bicycles.  The few that do so use it for two reasons.  First, college towns use it to gouge the students.  If you don't have the tag - and most don't - there's a hefty fine that has to be paid to recover your bike.  Other cities call it a theft prevention measure.  Washington DC does this, but it still causes problems for commuters.  If you live outside the city, your bike doesn't need a tag.  So how are police supposed to know where you're from?

Owasso still has a bike tag law on the books but it's not enforced.  I talked with someone at the PD who said it wasn't worth the expense to maintain the records. 

Sadly, you're right about the lack of skills and lack of responsibility exhibited by too many bicycle riders.  We don't have similar expectations of new motorists, but it seems that for some, bike safety consist of 'wear a helmet and stay out of the way of cars.'  I suppose my teenage driver could be told, "Wear your seat belt - now you're safe."  It's equally preposterous.

As for parking, the city had a big push to install bike racks throughout the downtown area.  It was supposed to be a fast track plan and it began about this time last year.  Now, I rarely go downtown, so I have no idea if the racks were installed or if it's still in process.  Does anyone know?

Part of that plan called for bike lockers in one of the parking garages.  In Europe, similar lockers, postal drop bins, and even newspaper vending machines were removed for security reasons.  I'd love to use a locker because my bike sits outside in the sun with UV light slowly eating away at the tires.  (I'm inside the security perimeter at the maintenance base, so while theft is still a concern, it's not a major one.)  With my luck, the Department of Security Department would install new bike lockers, and next week the Security Department of Security would remove them.  I'm not a big fan of security guards, but that's a story for another time.
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Ed

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TheTed
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« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2009, 11:17:33 am »

I have not noticed any new bike racks downtown, or many racks at all. Even businesses in places  you'd think would be bike friendly fail to provide racks. Like that bagel joint in Brookside. A big parking lot but no bike racks.

NYC's recently passed bicycle access bill is something that'd be helpful in Tulsa.
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1. The owners of office buildings with freight elevators — that’s about 1,600 buildings — would be required to allow bicycle access if the tenants allow workers to bring bicycles to work. The owners wouldn’t have to provide the space for parking (that’s up to the tenants), just the access.

2. Parking garages with more the 200 space must create a paid spot for bikes for every 10 spaces for cars. In a year, that requirement is reduced to garages or lots with 51 spaces.
http://urbanvelo.org/nyc-bicycle-access-bill/

I don't know whether bike lanes are the answer. I agree that the ones up against curbs are frequently worthless: half asphalt and half concrete with giant tire-eating sewer grates every few feet. I've never had a problem, though, with bike lanes between the traffic lanes and street parking. At least that provides a better cycling surface and less debris ends up there.

Bike lanes or no, streets downtown and elsewhere in more urban areas of our fair city need to be designed for more than just cramming as many traffic lanes possible. Downtown needs to be for people, not just for cars.

If you're standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross on one of those new-ish curb bumpouts in the CBD, it almost looks like cars in the near lane are going to hit you because the roadway has been narrowed to barely wide enough for four lanes. Why they didn't get rid of a lane, I have no idea.
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TheTed
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« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2009, 11:23:08 am »

Imagine how much better this would be:


Than this.

Photo by Robert Blackie
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