Where The Streets Have Too Many Lanes
In a piece in the The Oklahoman urban design guru Jeff Speck walks the streets of Oklahoma City and sees a traffic mirage:
“The jaw dropper for me is the city’s traffic count map,” Speck said. “If you walk the city, and you look at the streets, you would think because of the size of the streets that traffic is two to three times what is actually experienced. There is a shocking disconnect between the size and speediness of all of your downtown streets with a few rare exceptions…
…Speck showed the downtown street configurations to traffic engineers outside the state and their first response was to guess the street grid was set up for a downtown density and traffic volume comparable to Chicago or Manhattan.
They said this is a street network that will support three to four times the density it is handling,” Speck said. “Then you look at the traffic counts, and only a few carrying 10,000 a day. And 10,000 cars a day is easily handled by a two-lane road.”
I don’t know much about Oklahoma City (I’ve never been), but what’s with the highway-grade, six-laned streets? Is this is a relic of some oil boom? Was the city trying, through sheer boosterism and asphalt, to imagine itself as some Chicago of the plains? Evidently, it once had angled parking downtown; that, like two-way streets, were done away with by overzealous traffic engineers. It begs the question of when and how cities should downsize — or perhaps “rightsize,” to use that corporate euphemism of the 1980s.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Cities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.