OneSweetWorld

Road Diets

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Innovative, exciting, and certainly intriguing concept that's fairly new to West Michigan: road diets. So far, they've been proposed in downtown Grandville and downtown Grand Rapids (as far as I know).

From Grandville's website (linked above):

"The project follows a "complete street" profile including decorative brick work, street trees, street lights, benches, ornamental landscaping, and the relocation of overhead lines. The plan also includes reducing the street cross section from four to three lanes with on-street parking. Also included in the plan is the construction of a Farmer's Market Pavilion in public parking lot north of the library." (Note: edited for spelling errors. LOL)

I was unaware that to qualify as a "complete street" it simply had to include anything which is prefixed by "decorative." Still, the concept of removing lanes intrigues me. I found a report from the Federal Highway Administration outlining the effects of road diets. Here ya go.

GR's road diet, on the other hand, sounds more like a "complete street" according to The Grand Rapids Press (also linked above):

Division Avenue's road diet would "slim the five-lane street down to three lanes between Michigan (and) Wealthy. With three traffic lanes, the street would get bicycle lanes, on-street parking spaces or wider traffic lanes."

Could this bring more retail to Division? Maybe reroute some traffic to other streets such as Commerce or Ionia, injecting some more blood into their systems? How would slimming down Division Ave affect the proposed Silver Line?

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Innovative, exciting, and certainly intriguing concept that's fairly new to West Michigan: road diets. So far, they've been proposed in downtown Grandville and downtown Grand Rapids (as far as I know).

From Grandville's website (linked above):

"The project follows a "complete street" profile including decorative brick work, street trees, street lights, benches, ornamental landscaping, and the relocation of overhead lines. The plan also includes reducing the street cross section from four to three lanes with on-street parking. Also included in the plan is the construction of a Farmer's Market Pavilion in public parking lot north of the library." (Note: edited for spelling errors. LOL)

I was unaware that to qualify as a "complete street" it simply had to include anything which is prefixed by "decorative." Still, the concept of removing lanes intrigues me. I found a report from the Federal Highway Administration outlining the effects of road diets. Here ya go.

GR's road diet, on the other hand, sounds more like a "complete street" according to The Grand Rapids Press (also linked above):

Division Avenue's road diet would "slim the five-lane street down to three lanes between Michigan (and) Wealthy. With three traffic lanes, the street would get bicycle lanes, on-street parking spaces or wider traffic lanes."

Could this bring more retail to Division? Maybe reroute some traffic to other streets such as Commerce or Ionia, injecting some more blood into their systems? How would slimming down Division Ave affect the proposed Silver Line?

The Silver Line bypasses the area they are going to "slim down," for the most part.

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The Silver Line proposal bypasses this area completely, turning east at Wealthy & Division.

Google Map of Silver Line route: http://bit.ly/guwJfi

As for Grandville's Complete Street, it's kind of in that "Complete Street" grey area.

http://www.completes...te-streets-faq/

"Creating complete streets means transportation agencies must change their approach to community roads.By adopting a Complete Streets policy, communities direct their transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. This means that every transportation project will make the street network better and safer for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists – making your town a better place to live."

According to that description you posted, and the drawing on their website, bicyclists seem to be left without specific facilities. At least putting in Sharrows would be a start. Will reducing Chicago Dr. from 4 lanes to 3 and adding on street parking make the road "better and safer" for cyclists. It certainly will. But, I don't know if it will induce the average resident of the areas even just to the south to ride in the road to get to Striders, Biggby, or Steenstra's. I think they would be missing out on a chance to connect downtown with the new trail that goes from Buck Creek and connects down to Kent Trail on the river. This would make downtown easily accessible for those riding on the trail to or from the river.

I'm very excited about the Division Ave. corridor project. The lanes there are already too narrow and there is a lot of bicycle traffic in that area, particularly in Heartside and right around Kendall College of Art & Design. During nice weather last year, there were routinely 30-50 bikes parked out in front of the building, locked up to street furniture and trees in addition to the racks that are there. The parking "problem" will only increase with more encouragement of cycling.

Edited by fotoman311

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Innovative, exciting, and certainly intriguing concept that's fairly new to West Michigan: road diets. So far, they've been proposed in downtown Grandville and downtown Grand Rapids (as far as I know).

The first 4 lane road built and striped for 3 lanes with 6 foot bike lanes was built in 1990 by the Kent County Road Commission on 4 Mile Road - Coit to Plainfield. They have used that section a number of places since. The City of GR has built many similar sections in recent years. Plainfield Ave, West Leonard, the City of Walker, further west on Leonard.

Edited by Raildudes dad

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Innovative, exciting, and certainly intriguing concept that's fairly new to West Michigan: road diets. So far, they've been proposed in downtown Grandville and downtown Grand Rapids (as far as I know).

The first 4 lane road built and striped for 3 lanes with 6 foot bike lanes was built in 1990 by the Kent County Road Commission on 4 Mile Road - Coit to Plainfield. They have used that section a number of places since. The City of GR has built many similar sections in recent years. Plainfield Ave, West Leonard, the City of Walker, further west on Leonard.

I've been told there are about 20 miles of striped shoulder on road dieted streets. These are not bike lanes as it stands, although they are very friendly toward bicyclists. I would love to see these turned into bike lanes by the city and county with actual signage and designation so people know that's what they are intended for. They would also need to fix the improper striping, like on Knapp, where the shoulder stripe just folds into the curb at the intersections. (Google streetview: http://bit.ly/gClXxZ) This is one of the low-hanging fruit that the Grand Rapids and surrounding areas can and should be taking advantage of.

I was sad that the City of GR did not "road diet" Covell north of LMD when that was resurfaced two summers ago. I think with the adoption of the Complete Streets resolution on Tuesday and the adoption of the plans coming out of Green Grand Rapids, that future resurfacing and construction projects will be more accommodating to multiple forms of transportation.

The next step is to connect these roads into an actual network so that you can get from point A to point B on a bicycle, without having to think much about the route you are going to take.

Edited by fotoman311

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Slimming Division down to three lanes could cause some serious traffic headaches in the morning. For whatever reason -- probably people heading up to GRCC or perhaps even Spectrum -- the line of southbound cars seeking to make a left turn (north) onto Fountain in the morning rush frequently exceeds the capacity of the existing left turn lane and spills out into the inside lane of southbound Division. The only way to get around them is to use the outside southbound lane on Division. If that is gone, then people wishing to get south of Fountain on Division will likely be stuck behind a a whole bunch of cars waiting to turn left onto Fountain. And the space of that left turn lane is limited by the light at Pearl street, which is not far north from Fountain, so it is not like you can just make the left turn lane at Fountain longer.

Maybe you could deal with it by changing the light sequences at Fountain, but I hope some responsible adult looks at this issue carefully before recommending that Division go on a diet.

Edited by grnd

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Slimming Division down to three lanes could cause some serious traffic headaches in the morning. For whatever reason -- probably people heading up to GRCC or perhaps even Spectrum -- the line of southbound cars seeking to make a left turn (north) onto Fountain in the morning rush frequently exceeds the capacity of the existing left turn lane and spills out into the inside lane of southbound Division. The only way to get around them is to use the outside southbound lane on Division. If that is gone, then people wishing to get south of Fountain on Division will likely be stuck behind a a whole bunch of cars waiting to turn left onto Fountain. And the space of that left turn lane is limited by the light at Pearl street, which is not far north from Fountain, so it is not like you can just make the left turn lane at Fountain longer.

Maybe you could deal with it by changing the light sequences at Fountain, but I hope some responsible adult looks at this issue carefully before recommending that Division go on a diet.

Sounds like it's going to happen.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/03/downtown_grand_rapids_division.html

I agree about that traffic debacle in the morning. It's totally GRCC students coming onto Division via Pearl, and then trying to make a left at Fountain. I've seen it backed up all the way around the corner onto Pearl before, with people blocking Division. :stop: Why don't they go down to Fulton and around the block on Ransom or something??

But otherwise, traffic count studies show that that section of Division is not exactly heavily traveled (12,000 cars/day):

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/grandrap_19648_7.pdf

What might alleviate this is to get rid of the one-way streets on Fountain and on Lyon. I never understood why they were set up that way, particularly all the way deep into Heritage Hill. If that were to happen, GRCC students could enter the campus from downtown via one more road (Lyon and Fountain) to get to the parking ramps. It's only going to get worse, as GRCC continues to set record enrollment. Orrr, GRCC could encourage more of its students to take the DASH.

All the downtown streets and the traffic patterns should be looked at as to why they're oriented the way they are. Just because they've "been like that for years" is not a good reason to keep them that way.

I think it's a great idea overall, and we talked about it here on Urban Planet a long time ago when discussing renovation ideas for the old Keeler Building at Division and Fountain. However, since this is only temporary, I don't think it will be enough to entice retailers into the ground floor of that building, even with curbside parking. :dontknow: I'd love it if it happened though.

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Slimming Division down to three lanes could cause some serious traffic headaches in the morning. For whatever reason -- probably people heading up to GRCC or perhaps even Spectrum -- the line of southbound cars seeking to make a left turn (north) onto Fountain in the morning rush frequently exceeds the capacity of the existing left turn lane and spills out into the inside lane of southbound Division. The only way to get around them is to use the outside southbound lane on Division. If that is gone, then people wishing to get south of Fountain on Division will likely be stuck behind a a whole bunch of cars waiting to turn left onto Fountain. And the space of that left turn lane is limited by the light at Pearl street, which is not far north from Fountain, so it is not like you can just make the left turn lane at Fountain longer.

Maybe you could deal with it by changing the light sequences at Fountain, but I hope some responsible adult looks at this issue carefully before recommending that Division go on a diet.

Perhaps (and I'll admit this conclusion is based purely on my simple American thought process) heavier vehicle traffic will persuade more people to search for alternative modes of transportation. Similar to the sentiment I've seen on here that "parking problem" means too much parking, one might argue a "traffic problem" means not enough traffic jams. If it took half an hour to drive from Michigan St to the arena district, might some opt to walk or ride their bike? If this trend takes off in GR, it could potentially lead to an explosion in the number of bike cabs/bike sharing/other cool city stuff. Better yet: a streetcar system would be much more feasible if downtown workers were compelled to park in a ramp on the outskirts and take a streetcar into the CBD.

Mass transit is developed in cities where taking a bus/riding a bike is quicker, easier, and cheaper than driving. Especially in Michigan, mass transit will never be the favored mode of transportation unless it's the most convenient.

@fotoman311: Thanks for that tidbit! I was only two years old when they starved Plainfield so I had no idea that ever happened. What was the political environment like surrounding the decision? Was there any resistance from neighbors or commuters? (in Grandville it seems like the folks against narrowing Chicago Drive are the ones who just drive through everyday).

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The reassuring part of "pilots" is failure allows for conversion to the status quo with little remedy. The exciting part of this particular project will be to watch the initial public outcry the first week bleed away as drivers alter their driving patterns...as they always do. Driving patterns mimic flowing water...it follows the path of least resistance.

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I may have read something wrong here, but the design is for three lanes, so I am assuming there will be a dedicated left turn lane onto fountain. I also imagine to adjust for the thousands of cars that turn into that intersection they will reconfigure the lights in the corridor. It may actually improve the flow.

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I may have read something wrong here, but the design is for three lanes, so I am assuming there will be a dedicated left turn lane onto fountain. I also imagine to adjust for the thousands of cars that turn into that intersection they will reconfigure the lights in the corridor. It may actually improve the flow.

The point is that often there are so many cars in the left turn lane that it backs up all the way to the next street. It's a short block. There is already a shared center left turn lane, so cars trying to turn left onto Pearl are often fighting against cars trying to turn left onto Fountain, causing the cars turning left onto fountain to spill into the left lane on the road. I posted about this issue on Rosalynn Bliss' Facebook page when she was asking about the pilot project. I think they are aware it's an issue and hopefully will address it to some extent through modified signal timing. The rest is just up to people to make adjustments in their route or mode of transit to avoid the congestion.

Edited by fotoman311

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Grandville voted 4-3 to approve their $4.9 million streetscape project this evening, after a marathon 4-hour meeting I had the pleasure of attending.

Off the top of my head, the budget broke down like this:

$950,000 - Federal Transportation Enhancement grant (which had to be used this year or it would expire)

$1,700,000 - 20 year municipal bond with a ~$180,000 annual payment by the DDA (A good portion of their ~$240,000 current tax capture will go here. It was also stated they have a $200,000 cash reserve, in case the capture did drop below the amount of the bond payment. The capture has already dropped ~$60,000 from its peak, due to declining property values. The fact that the city would be on the hook if the DDA couldn't pay was cited as a major reason some were not sure this was a good idea. With the cash reserve, I think this is pretty unlikely.)

$250,000 - City of Grandville Major Roads fund

$2,000,000 - DDA funds set aside since at least 2004 to pay for the anticipated project.

Very happy to see this move forward and the chance for another Grand Rapids suburb to really create a place that its citizens can be proud of. I think this investment will leverage additional private investments, as countless other small downtowns have experienced through similar projects. The next step is finding funds for the $650,000 multi-use Farmer's Market pavilion that had to be removed from the plans because of $, and really create some desirable, unique destinations for that city.

On a side note, the traffic noise from Wilson Avenue was really loud and distracting at times during the meeting.

Edited by fotoman311

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A little off topic but I found this while aimlessly surfing - Diverging Diamonds. Picture a boulevard state highway crossing over an interstate and the state highway lanes criss-cross right side to left side while passing over the interstate. So insane, it might just work.

As far as downtown Grandville goes, I'm torn on the value of the road diet. With yet another vacancy appearing there very recently, there is just not much of a draw for pedestrians or motorists. I take Chicago drive often enough at rush hour and I don't really see that becoming overcrowded as many fear but that remains to be seen. I think after the 196 ramp to Jenison opened, traffic has noticeably declined through Grandville.

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Rode my trike from Wealthy to Michigan and don't see how it is any more pedestrian or bike friendly. Didn't notice any additional or easy parking either. Am I missing something?

~John

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(In regards to any widened sidewalks, bulb-outs, and parking) I think those features will require actual reconstruction of the curb lines and infrastructure, which will not occur until after a year if it has been proven that normal traffic flow is not severely impacted by the changes. This initial 1 year trial is to test the traffic flow only.

Decreased number of lanes to cross definitely makes crosswalks safer due to there being less collision points for drivers and pedestrians to look out for.

Edited by tSlater

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Rode my trike from Wealthy to Michigan and don't see how it is any more pedestrian or bike friendly. Didn't notice any additional or easy parking either. Am I missing something?

~John

John,

The entire north half of the project has not been completed yet. They only completed from Wealthy to Oakes, per the post on the http://www.revisiondivision.com website. When completed there will be a 6-foot bike lane on each side of Division north of Fulton. My hope is that the additional parking that was discussed will be going in from Oakes to Fulton, or at least Oakes to Weston, where the right turn only lanes have been put in for now. I haven't heard for sure if that's the plan, but we'll see this weekend when they finish the north half.

Workers this Saturday will repaint the section of Division Avenue from Wealthy Street to Oakes Street. Work will resume on June 25, weather permitting, to repaint the section from Oakes Street to Michigan Street. The intent is to maintain traffic flow during this work.
Edited by fotoman311

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John,

The entire north half of the project has not been completed yet. They only completed from Wealthy to Oakes, per the post on the http://www.revisiondivision.com website. When completed there will be a 6-foot bike lane on each side of Division north of Fulton. My hope is that the additional parking that was discussed will be going in from Oakes to Fulton, or at least Oakes to Weston, where the right turn only lanes have been put in for now. I haven't heard for sure if that's the plan, but we'll see this weekend when they finish the north half.

I drove on it today and I can notice a huge difference. It just feels like a smaller, narrower street.

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I rode my bicycle from Weston to Wealthy today on my way to work and I think the diet made a noticeable difference. I was thinking about it afterward, and I think it's the combination of the wider lane and the fact that cars seemed more comfortable giving more space by going into the center turn lane to pass me instead of having to move over into another lane where there could be traffic going the same direction.

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I rode my bicycle from Weston to Wealthy today on my way to work and I think the diet made a noticeable difference. I was thinking about it afterward, and I think it's the combination of the wider lane and the fact that cars seemed more comfortable giving more space by going into the center turn lane to pass me instead of having to move over into another lane where there could be traffic going the same direction.

It's really nice. Unfortunately the only guy I saw riding his bike on Division today was riding on the sidewalk going against traffic. :lol:

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I rode my bicycle from Weston to Wealthy today on my way to work and I think the diet made a noticeable difference. I was thinking about it afterward, and I think it's the combination of the wider lane and the fact that cars seemed more comfortable giving more space by going into the center turn lane to pass me instead of having to move over into another lane where there could be traffic going the same direction.

Motorists, or drivers of cars. kthxbai

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I rode my bicycle from Weston to Wealthy today on my way to work and I think the diet made a noticeable difference. I was thinking about it afterward, and I think it's the combination of the wider lane and the fact that cars seemed more comfortable giving more space by going into the center turn lane to pass me instead of having to move over into another lane where there could be traffic going the same direction.

It may be easier with wider lanes and a center lane for drivers to move over but the whole concept of a "sharrow" seems flawed (at least in that location) because traffic still moves way to fast for bikes and drivers will still be angry if some slow cyclist is taking up their lane and they have to drive 12 mph. As I understand it with sharrows, bikes are free to ride down the center of the lane because they are supposed to have equal access to it. all that's going to do is get them run over. they should have put some skinny bike lanes to define where the bikers are supposed to ride, knowing that cars are going to be infringing in them most of the time, getting over when there is an actual cyclist. at least most people know what a bike lane is as opposed to the sharrow, where your average dope smoking (medical of course) factory worker is going to look at that and go "WTF is that bike arrow thingy in the lane for" and then proceed to plow over the next biker that enters the lane.

Edited by jas49503

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I disagree with that assumption. What usually gets bicyclists run over is lack of awareness that a bicyclist is there -- visibility. With bikes going down the center of the lane they will thus be much more visible than if they are going down some narrow strip off to the side.

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It may be easier with wider lanes and a center lane for drivers to move over but the whole concept of a "sharrow" seems flawed (at least in that location) because traffic still moves way to fast for bikes and drivers will still be angry if some slow cyclist is taking up their lane and they have to drive 12 mph. As I understand it with sharrows, bikes are free to ride down the center of the lane because they are supposed to have equal access to it. all that's going to do is get them run over. they should have put some skinny bike lanes to define where the bikers are supposed to ride, knowing that cars are going to be infringing in them most of the time, getting over when there is an actual cyclist. at least most people know what a bike lane is as opposed to the sharrow, where your average dope smoking (medical of course) factory worker is going to look at that and go "WTF is that bike arrow thingy in the lane for" and then proceed to plow over the next biker that enters the lane.

I've put over 1000 miles on my bike outdoors since the beginning of this season, on city streets, on 55 mph country roads, in groups, singular, and I seldom have people "plow me over" when I'm riding legally in the traffic lane (within 3 feet of the shoulder), sharrows or no sharrows. Every once in a while you get assholes, but for the most part people are accommodating of bicyclists who are obeying traffic laws.

As I understand it from Suzanne Schulz, MDOT would not allow the exterior lanes to be designated bike lanes "yet" until the experiment is run through. You know, MDOT, the one who spent $15 Million on big digital signs along the highways to tell us what we already know.

GGRBC has a great flickr photo set of the road diet:

http:[email protected]/sets/72157626934045465/

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