The 300 block of Evernia Street has been restriped with angled parking on the north side of the block. The Walkability Study called for angled parking on both sides of the street, but WPB Engineering informed me that the number of driveways precluded this from being achievable, in addition to concerns about meeting minimum lane width standards.
Although I’m ecstatic to see the progress, the statement about minimum lane width standards is very concerning. Most if not all the recommendations in the Speck Walkability Study are not possible without 10 foot lane widths or less. An 11 foot minimum standard is a highway/suburban standard. If anything, a walkable downtown core should be more concerned about a maximum lane width, above which the street becomes hostile to people on foot, rather than focusing on a minimum. A minimum lane width is a testament to street priorities: Making sure cars feel comfortable as possible driving through. I’m not sure where or when this policy came about, as it certainly wasn’t the case when Ian Lockwood and the New Urbanists were working in the city.
I understand there are reasonable street widths that need to be attained for purposes of public safety, ie, Fire Department (although Fire Departments are notorious for going overboard). However, we should be striving for streets that are as skinny as possible, more worried about creating more pavement than needed than we are worried that cars might have to slow down a bit. Restriping our lanes isn’t just about getting more parking yield, although that’s a great benefit. It’s about the many benefits in walkability and urbanism that come from having slower, more humane streets.
Slowing the cars is exactly what makes a place livable and desirable in the first place.
PS – I hope I’m wrong about this block and our street design standards. If a West Palm Beach engineer is reading this, perhaps they can respond on the blog to quell our fears that they will insist on 11′ minimum lane widths on downtown streets.