Tag Archives: road diet

Fire chiefs vs street width


OK, sure, this is an excuse to post a video about fire apparatus, especially tractor-drawn aerials.  And if into the comments section you go, aside from the pain you will find, there is some criticism that the chauffeur of the tower ladder (the one that doesn’t bend in the middle) probably wasn’t very experienced operating that apparatus.  Maybe so.

Nonetheless, neither vehicle had much trouble with very narrow streets.  Backing out?  Yes, but not getting to the fire building.

I poked around on the NFPA website but could not find standards for minimum street widths and turning radii  that were specifically intended for public streets.  In NFPA 1, Fire Code, I did find standards for Fire Department Access Roads in Chapter 18.2.3, but that seems to apply to roads specifically intended for fire department access and not necessarily public streets.  Those require 20′ minimum unobstructed width and 13’6″ minimum vertical clearance.  The standard leaves minimum turn radius up to the authority having jurisdiction (“AHJ”).  Remember, too, that NFPA standards and codes only have legal force when the AHJ says they do because they’ve adopted them as a municipal ordinance.

I did find this, though:   http://www.nfpa.org/~/media/files/research/research-foundation/foundation-proceedings/next-five-years/wren.pdf?la=en which is a slideshow that talks about meetings between CNU and the Austin, Texas, Fire Department.  Not much here,  but I probably need to do some more research.

“Remove a lane to improve traffic? Expert explains his Calgary cycle track proposal”

Remove a lane to improve traffic? Expert explains his Calgary cycle track proposal.

I get why the people in cars think this won’t work but there are solid observational results that say it will.  In Calgary, even.

This is definitely a case where a trial could be done, either with paint or with those flexible posts or even Jersey barriers.  If it doesn’t work after a reasonable trial period (like 6 months or a year), then you take it out and you haven’t spent a lot.

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.


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.