Putting a road on a diet


I’ve long been a fan of “complete streets.” That, essentially, is the notion – sometimes considered radical or even socialist in car-centric Texas — that streets aren’t only for cars.
The National Complete Streets Coalition perhaps says it best:
“The streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities. They ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.”
A good example is in my neighborhood on Fort Worth’s Near South Side: Mistletoe Heights.
Passing through Mistletoe Heights and the adjacent Berkeley Place neighborhood just to the south is a busy thoroughfare called Forest Park Boulevard.
It’s a major north-south artery that carries a lot of traffic from south Fort Worth into nearby downtown. It bisects Mistletoe Heights and makes crossing during peak hours very problematic, particularly with children in tow.
The speed limit on the four-lane boulevard is 35 mph. But drivers – including residents of Mistletoe Heights and Berkeley Place – frequently exceed that limit because the design of the street encourages speed.
Now, the two neighborhoods are taking some first steps to transform that busy boulevard into a “complete street.”
Friend, fellow blogger and urbanologist Kevin Buchanan has done a nice post on the effort for his blog, Fort Worthology.
Resolutions passed by the neighborhood associations of Mistletoe Heights and Berkeley Place have urged the city to implement what is called a “road diet.”
Essentially, that means that Forest Park Boulevard would be reduced to two traffic lanes – one northbound and one southbound – and have a dedicated turn lane in the middle. The leftover space on either side would be used for bicycle lanes.
“What I find most impressive about this proposal is that it’s entirely neighborhood-driven,” Kevin writes in Fort Worthology.
“The residents who want the street to be safer and a better fit for their neighborhood have put together this proposal, completely grassroots, and have been working for months now getting support from their neighbors and the neighborhood associations. One of the residents putting the plan together contacted Fort Worthology to help get the word out, and here we are.”
That is also the reason for this blog post. But Kevin’s post brings to the topic more expertise and background than I possess. It’s worth a read.
Kevin also includes a video that explains what a “road diet” means. Check it out.

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Filed under Environment, Politics, Texana, Urban cycling

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