Notes from Public Meeting on University Avenue (UA) Restriping 1 July 2008

Robert Walker - Neil Schaffer Engineering

Read from his report. PDF

Noted that material was gleaned primarily from the Road Diet Handbook

Regretted that no traffic surveys or modeling was possible.

Noted positive experience from 2 locations in Jackson, MS.

Considerations:

  1. Should NOT be made for average daily traffic counts of > 20,000

ADT data from MDOT indicated 15,000 in 2003 and 19,000 in 2006

  1. A practical limit of curb cuts is 80 per mile

Actual number is 114.

  1. Traffic will increase on alternate routes

Alternative routes, Lamar and W. University constrained

  1. Connectivity with other bicycle routes

Other Routes not connected.

  1. Maximum grade be 5%

Grade on University at Lamar is > 5%
(actually only for Lamar to 13th -- 6.25%
all the rest < 5% http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2058271
Overall Lamar to Bramlett 3.4% grade)

Michael Moule - Livable streets Inc

Provided thorough explanation of road diets, with this slide show

Provided a review of his recommendations for University Avenue PDF

Addressed of several concerns of R. Walker:

  1. Should NOT be made for average daily traffic counts of > 20,000

    ADT of 20k does not preclude a road diet, although care should be exercised. Several successful road diets have been documented with ADT > 20k

  2. A practical limit of curb cuts is 80 per mile

    The proliferation of access points on UA is detrimental to safety and traffic flow in either the 4 lane or 3 lane configurations.
    Multiple driveways mean multiple opportunities for accidents, high speeds exacerbate the problem.

  3. Connectivity with other bicycle routes

    The report of RW was in error.
    Phase 2 of the Oxford Bikeways project funded in 2007 by the MDOT TEP program includes Bramlett and S. 18th. The square is a popular destination for cyclists and pedestrians, Van Buren Avenue was Oxford's original bike route.

  4. Maximum grade be 5%

    The grade recommendation is not relevant for streets and bike lanes, perhaps the standard for separate bike paths (where conflicts are with pedestrians, and maximum speeds < 20 mph. In bikelanes with vehicles max bike speeds are not an issue.

Mike Mossing - Chair, Oxford Pathways Commission

Reggie Holley - CEO Oxford University Bank

Reported that the Merchants meet previously and are opposed to the Road Diet

The Merchants's primary concern is safety for everyone - cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. These concerns are related to:

  1. Road and lane width
  2. Traffic counts
  3. Number of curb cuts
  4. > 5% Grade
  5. Problems with traffic when this section of University avenue was 2-lane (1 traffic lane each direction).

The Merchants also wonder why University Avenue was not included in the bike-plan.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is the road wide enough?

    Before the meeting yesterday, Michael Moule (MM) and Bart Robinson (BR) discussed several ways to divide up the total between the various lanes. The illustration that I posted with a roadway width of 44 - was just an example. In the illustration 44/4 = 11 ft lanes, obviously with Uni Ave's actual width of 40.5 ft the present lanes are narrower. They will be narrower in the diet configuration also.

  2. Is the volume of traffic too high?

    Traffic volume appears to be near the upper end of the range where MM calls the conversion a "sure bet". There are many published examples of successful 4to3 conversions with higher volumes.

    One point that was not brought up is that nationally, traffic volume has dropped in the last 6 months. Americans Drove 1.4 Billion Fewer Highway Miles in April of 2008. To the extent that gas remains expensive and alternatives are available this may continue. More traffic is not necessarily what we're after. The assumption that it will continually increase may not be such a sure bet.

  3. Where exactly will 'dieting' happen (at what point after the intersections)?

    This needs to be decided and designed - the topic was also discussed in broad outline by MM and BR. Generally the transition will begin close to the special striping (for turn lanes etc) at the present intersections. BR et al need to look at the details of curb cut locations and other considerations, possibly including accident data mapped for 2004-2005 at OUMITS to decide.

  4. Are the intersections going to stay the same?

    For the most part -- Left turn lanes on University may be better aligned at Lamar. See notes below

  5. Are there too many driveways?

    Yes. There are too many for 4 lanes as well as 3. The city recognizes this. BR expressed his frustration at recent attempts to consolidate. Many individual owners don't want to share. In the long run, no matter the configuration, it would make the street safer to limit access points. In a rosy scenario, with a more pedestrian focus, over time the trend may be for "front door parking lots" to be converted to sidewalk cafes, or landscaped entries and the problem declines in severity.

  6. We haven't had enough time to discuss and ensure the engineering will be appropriate.

    In the end, the street will be usable in either configuration. There are trade-offs between speed and safety, efficiency and attractiveness, pedestrians, bikes and cars. But my sense is these may be rather small. It may be that the biggest difference that the road diet will make is the perception of University Avenue as a destination rather than a corridor. I think the engineers just have to operate within the design constraints dictated by the board. I am sure that BR and company can do a fine job.

Notes from Moule Meeting Wed July 2 2008

Left turn lane on Uni Ave @ S. Lamar is offset in the negative direction

According to Signalized Intersections: Informational Guide - FHWA-HRT-04-091 positive offset makes for safer intersections.

Left Turn Lane Offsets

MDOT roundabout study should be complete in 6 weeks (8/15/2008)

Traffic control (striping, etc) unnecessary for < 3000 ADT. Neighborhood streets like Manor, Willliams, Douglas and S. 18th.

Shared lane markers may be sufficient.

Signage, when used, should indicate lacation or provide direction.

College Hill water line construction - repaving - may be an opportunity to include adequate width for bike lane/paved shoulder.

Road Diets and Property Values

http://www.google.com/search?q=road+diet+property+values

El Cajon, CA http://www.walkinginfo.org/library/details.cfm?id=3967

The road diet is one factor that has contributed to the economic vitality demonstrated in the following statistics.

Traffic Down Nationally and in New York City

U.S. Department of Transportation report on traffic trends.PDF

Politics Failed, but Fuel Prices Cut Congestion in NYC

National Conference of Mayors Survey on Fuel Prices and Alternative Transportation

MAYORS RELEASE 132-CITY SURVEY SHOWING IMPACT OF GAS PRICES, ECONOMIC CONDITIONS ON CITIES

Three in four of the mayors say rising gas prices prompted their city to scrutinize public transportation within their climate protection strategy. Well over half say these prices prompted their city to modify transportation elements of their climate protection strategy.

Complete Mayors Survey Report 8 pages

Housing Prices

Recent analysis has shown that "walkable" communities have fared much better in the recent housing slump. This seems to be especially true for 2 demographic groups especially prominent in Oxford - people in their 20s and retirees.

Demographic Changes, High Gasoline Prices May Hasten Demand for Urban Living

This note cites a recent report on what to expect when oil reaches $200 - the projections may be a bit extreme but the data for the last 6 months is real -- auto sales, miles driven, gas consumption per capita are all down.

Oil Shock: Analyst Predicts $7 Gas, "Mass Exodus" of U.S. Cars (WSJ)

StrategEcon: Heading for the Exit Lane (PDF Report)

Getting Off the Road--Adjusting to $7 per Gallon Gas in America (4p PDF)

Finally this story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes the drastic difference in home sales and prices in two adjacent communities that is largely attributed to city planning to favor mixed development and walkability