28.1.16

Death Road Death Watch

I have a thing against the 4-lane undivided roadways that traffic engineers in both core counties seem to be so fond of. I think they're unconscionable. I tried to make the case against these roads in urban areas a while ago on streets.mn, and it was one of the rare times when I actually feel justified in using possible inflammatory language to describe a situation. 

Thus the Four-lane Death Road™.
Here's the punchline:
These patterns are troubling, but they probably point to the political disenfranchisement of particular areas of the city more than any grand conspiracy toward structural racism. These streets shouldn’t be allowed in any parts of our cities where people walk or bike or have homes and businesses. It shouldn’t matter where you are or how much money you have. These streets are dangerous for everyone, and there should be no excuse for them.
I wrote about this two years ago. I’m probably going to write about it again after the next person is put in a coma or coffin. Every day, these dangerous designs erode safety and quality of life, and our urban businesses and neighborhoods continue to languish in the shadow of death. Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Ramsey and Hennepin Counties can fix this problem and make Death Roads™ illegal in urban areas. Until they do, it’s only a matter of time before another kid gets mowed down.
And here again is an attempt to describe some of the science and research behind the Death Road™(aka road diet) debate:
As opposed to some really low-traffic streets, fixing these streets might involve changing the balance between high-speed traffic flow, safety, and quality of life. As a city, we need to have an intelligent conversation about what these trade-offs are, and how to value them. 

Saint Paul and Hennepin County should increase the threshold where they're favor 4-3 conversions on streets. Even if some traffic conditions become more congested, the trade-off in terms of pedestrian safety, neighborhood quality of life, and improving access to small businesses is well worth it for often struggling urban neighborhoods.

To me the trade-off between car capacity and safety for vulnerable users of our public rights-of-way is a moral question, not a transportation question. These designs erode the safety and security of people living int he city, and they're simply too dangerous. We shoudl get rid of them as soon as possible. Full stop.

So here's the list of roads we should immediately convert to 3-lane designs. All of these need to go. They are not OK. They need to die.

The Death Road Death Watch List (in no particular order)
  • Rice Street (the Saint Paul / North End portion)
  • Lyndale Avenue (in South Minneapolis)
  • East Lake Street (east of Hiawatha)
  • West Broadway Avenue (in Northeast)
  • West Broadway Avenue (in North)
  • White Bear Avenue (North of I-94)
  • University Avenue (in Northeast)
  • Franklin Avenue
  • West 7th Street (between Grand and Downtown)
  • Hamline Avenue (North of Summit)
  • Cretin Avenue (North of Grand)
  • Dale Street (North of Summit)
  • Robert Street (through downtown) 
  • Maryland Avenue (East of Western)
  • Hennepin Avenue (South of Downtown)
  • 46th Street South 
  • Hennepin Avenue (East of Central)

Am I missing any? To me, this is a moral question. We must change these streets. Nothing else will do.

Eventually, we'll fix these streets. Why not now?



4 comments:

L said...

Maryland east of 35E
W 7th all the way to the river, not just to Grand

Gary said...

Hennepin Ave

PT said...

Cretin between 94 and Marshall (especially south bound) is a poor candidate. Traffic is already terrible and would divert south bound traffic off of Cretin to Cleveland via the neighborhood (it already happens now). Its not a pedestrian area anyway with Town and Country abutting Cretin. Given Cleveland is getting bike lanes and has more houses on the street and more walkers, I don't think you want to be driving cars towards Cleveland. South of Marshall its probably a good idea w/ less traffic and more students pedestrians at UST.

Same deal with Hamline. North of Marshall a bad idea. South of Marshall a good idea. Hamline north of 94 is an interesting case. should probably be 4-3 but will be interesting to see how the soccer stadium affects the development/retail between Cub and Target.

They did a 4-3 conversion on Fairview south of Marshall a decade ago? To be honest, at the time I thought it was a bad idea but has turned out really well. I'm more open to the conversion process given the success of Fairview.

I'd add Snelling south of Grand or St Clair. 4 lanes aren't necessary

Adam said...

Related, I've become an insufferable car passenger, as I want to scold someone driving "normally" (i.e., as fast as feels safe for them, which on city streets is 5-10 mph faster than the speed limit and 10-15 miles faster than is actually safer for non-car users).

We've got to change the context for drivers so it feels right to go slower.