Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Urban News article touts traffic calming and benefits of improved bicycle access

New Haven resident Philip Langdon has written an excellent article in this month's New Urban News. Among the items identified as needed to improve conditions for bicycling and walking (and thereby a city's economy):

Traffic-calming in most residential neighborhoods.

Many cities have introduced alterations such as “road narrowing, raised intersections and crosswalks, traffic circles, extra curves and zigzag routes, speed humps, and artificial deadends created by mid-block street closures,” the authors say. “Cycling is almost always allowed in both directions on all such traffic-calmed streets, even when they are restricted to one-way travel for cars.”

“Traffic calming is usually area-wide and not for isolated streets. That ensures that thru-traffic gets displaced to arterial roads designed to handle it and not simply shifted from one residential street to another.” The beneficiaries include pedestrians as well as cyclists.

Cities such as Munster, Germany, have established “bicycle streets” — narrow streets where cyclists are given absolute priority. On these streets, “cyclists can ride anywhere they want, even if that means obstructing cars,” the authors say. Cars are usually permitted, but they are limited to 30 kilometers [19 mph] or less and must yield to cyclists. Munster had 12 bicycling streets in 2007, and they have been so successful that the city intends to add 10 more.”

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