Excellent Video on Road Diets
Check out this video on Streetfilms about road diets. It shows one of the most (to the urbanist wonk anyways) astounding things about road diets: that we can take the infrastructure we have, and get more out of it for everyone with just a few gallons of paint.
Road diets involve no construction. In any road diet, a two-way street has two one-way lanes removed and replaced with a center turning lane that can be used by vehicles travelling in either direction. The extra road space is usually made into bike lanes on both sides of the street. When done properly, this can lead to increased safety for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. In fact, by preventing queuing behind cars waiting to turn left and reducing lane changes, a road diet can actually increase motor vehicle capacity.
This is a departure from the tradeoffs associated with many other safety improvements in that there need be no impact to motor vehicle travel times.
So why haven’t we seen this type of development in Vancouver? For one thing, we have been mostly spared from the six-lane collector roads that are the norm in many other cities. This only works on four-lane roads and up.
Within downtown, many of the major streets are one-way only, which are not subject to road diets. The few large collector roads outside of downtown, however, still seem to be totally car-focused, such as Clark or Broadway. Clark is the major trucking route to the Port of Vancouver and (rightly or wrongly) has been kept as a bastion of motor-vehicle oriented street design. Broadway is another major artery, but City planners have chosen to create part-time transit lanes and create bike lanes just off this major car thoroughfare. While this does make make crosstown traffic flow more quickly, the street has several commercial dead spots between major intersections.