Road Diet before they were called that

Continuing on the theme of early influences …

The main “east-west” arterial (actually more SW-NE) in the area I was raised was built, mostly, as a 6-lane, undivided boulevard, thankfully with sidewalks (eventually), and with a high school, retail, and multi-family housing (way more now than back in the day).  A good mile or more of it actually went through what we called “the swamp” but would now be recognized as a wetland!

Not very attractive, not especially safe, and, interestingly, mostly under-capacity.  So about a decade or so after it was completed, it was put on a road diet at first with the use of paint.  A two-way (unprotected) bike lane was put along the north edge, taking up the space of about one lane.  Then the city painted a median in the middle of the remaining five lanes.  This allowed left turn bays at intersections as well as some separation between traffic flowing in opposite directions.

http://goo.gl/maps/Y0wNP

That’s a representative view of the road long after (long after) it was put on a diet.  The brick building is a fire station.  The large parking lot to the right of the firehouse was once the parking lot for a hockey arena that has been gone for over 20 years (but that hosted a concert featuring Procol Harum and The Eagles <mumble> years before that!).  I don’t know what the AADT is for this road, but I’m certain it’s much more than it was when it was put on a diet.

Oh, and there are 5 transit routes along here, too.  A local route (30-minute headway 0500-0100 plus extra runs at peak hours) and 3 express routes providing about the same number of buses but that end after the evening peak and that all end at either a commuter train or subway station.  There is a night route that fills in the other hours, so basically 24-hour service.  And this is far out in the ‘burbs.  We had good transit when I still lived there <mumble> years ago –around the time of the diet, actually — but not nearly this good.

3 thoughts on “Road Diet before they were called that”

  1. I wonder why they though that area needed a 6 lane blvd. I’m glad they were able to see the potential for other thins like the bike lanes. It probably wasn’t too hard to do since the road was under capacity. This would have been much harder to do on a heavily used road. It just goes to show that you can still get it right even if you do it wrong the first time!

    1. That’s a good question. Without going into the whole history and politics of the area, from reading the archived copies of the local weekly paper, it seems this boulevard, which ran the length of our long but narrow suburb, was seen as an economic driver. To some extent that succeeded but mostly it was used as a route to get other places (it connected three other, more important boulevards). But yes, they were smart to have done what they did. Googling around there now, while the section I marked is still just painted, to the west it appears that they not only added sidewalks on both sides but have a separate, two-way cycling facility along the road.

      1. Oops – started up the streaming and the bandwidth went to heck and the browser locked up. When these bike lanes were built, they didn’t really go anywhere. Now they’re part of a network of bike paths, lanes, sharrows and multi-use trails that goes pretty much anywhere in the metro area. Looking at the map, I see gaps, but I see a lot of connectivity, too!

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