Walkable West Palm Beach


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Nine foot travel lanes in practice

When it comes to lane width, less is more.

This post explores a state highway section with 9 foot travel lanes, and will demonstrate that in spite of transportation agency misgivings about narrow lanes, Forest Hill Boulevard performs better on crash statistics than FDOT guidance for similar roadways, while offering advantages in the form of reduced construction costs, less negative impacts to adjacent properties, and decreased stormwater runoff, among other positive benefits.

Forest Hill Boulevard - West Palm Beach

Forest Hill Boulevard – West Palm Beach

Transportation agencies routinely make arguments against roadways such as Forest Hill Blvd. that are not based on studies or facts, but rather are based on conjecture of what might happen if narrower than standard lane widths were utilized. Since Forest Hill Boulevard is a real road in the real world it provides an opportunity to observe 9′ lanes in practice and not conjecture.

Livable streets advocates often recommend the use of 9′ to 10′ wide travel lanes instead of wider 11′ to 12′ lanes for several reasons, including:

  • Lower construction costs
  • Less right of way acquisition required
  • Decreased stormwater runoff
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Lower travel speeds and less injurious crashes
  • Smaller footprint which can allow limited right of way to be reallocated to other uses such as on-street parking, bike lanes, or landscaping.

Even with all of the advantages of narrower travel lanes it is often impossible to have transportation agencies allow the implementation of narrower travel lanes. The FHWA summarizes the potential adverse impacts to safety and operations for a design exception for lane width as follows:

  • Sideswipe (same direction) crashes
  • Reduced free-flow speeds
  • Large vehicles off-tracking into adjacent lane or shoulder

Jeff Speck’s article, “Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now“, provides a strong case for why reduced free-flow speeds are desirous and how narrower lanes help to achieve lower speeds and safer streets:

Forest Hill Boulevard Details

Our case study is the section of Forest Hill Boulevard (SR 882) in West Palm Beach between I-95 and S. Dixie Highway. This section of road has five lanes and is classified as an urban minor arterial with an AADT that varies from 28,000 at the western end near the I-95 interchange to 17,000 at the eastern end near S. Dixie Highway.

In spite of the 17,000 to 28,000 vehicles passing by each day on the road the walk on the sidewalk is relatively pleasant. The trees provide much-needed shade on hot Florida days and also a feeling of safety from errant vehicles.

 

IMG_7199

The sidewalk and a wide tree-lined landscaped buffer frame 48′ of asphalt located between the curbs. As shown in the below section from FDOT, Forest Hill Blvd. was proposed to be resurfaced with 9′ wide lanes and a 9.5 wide center turn lane.

Forest Hill Blvd. - FDOT section

Forest Hill Blvd. – FDOT section

It seemed unbelievable that Forest Hill Blvd. had 9′ lanes so Walkable West Palm Beach field investigators measured the lane widths to verify.

IMG_7201

Walkable WPB confirmed the 48′ curb to curb dimension, but, as shown in the below section, there were a few minor variations in the lane and shoulder widths compared to the FDOT drawing. Forest Hill Blvd. has 9′ wide inside travel lanes located between narrow, by highway standards, adjacent lanes.

forest-hill-boulevard

How do roads such as Forest Hill Boulevard compare from a traffic flow and traffic safety standpoint to a similar 5 lane road with 11′ to 12′ lanes? There isn’t much information on the performance of 9′ lanes, but by reviewing the data on 10′ wide lanes we may be able to glean some insight. In Jeff Speck’s article he states that there are very few studies on the issue of 10′ wide lanes, but the few studies that do exist support the theory that 10′ lanes are as safe or safer than 12′ wide lanes and have the same vehicular capacity.

An analysis of crash data obtained by Walkable WPB from FDOT for Forest Hill Boulevard also supports the theory that narrow lanes are as safe as wider lanes. For the 0.787 mile portion of Forest Hill Boulevard just east of the I-95 interchange to S. Dixie Highway there were 60 crashes from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2013. From this data a crash rate of 3.094 crashes per Million Vehicle Miles (MVM) is calculated by averaging the 17,000 and 28,000 AADT counts. 60/[(22,500 vehicles per day X 365 days a year X 3 years X 0.787 miles)/1,000,000]

This crash rate is less than the average crash rate provided by FDOT. FDOT provided the following information on average crash rates via email:

The average crash rate for 4-5 lane urban divided roadways with painted/paved median for the 2011-2013 period For FDOT Managing District number 4, which includes Palm Beach, Martin, Indian River, St Lucie and Broward Counties, is 3.719 crashes per MVM.

The FDOT crash data for Forest Hill Boulevard is available for download here.

Buses are cited as a reason to not utilize lanes narrower than 11′. Forest Hill Boulevard has bus service.

[10/12 4 pm edit –  We’ve been asked about the outer lane the bus is traveling in. The outer lane is actually 8.5 feet in width, with a 1.5 foot shoulder. So if you include the shoulder with the lane width, the bus is operating in a 10 foot lane. If you do not, the bus is operating in a 8.5 foot lane.]​

 

A few feet reduction in lane width can have a huge change in appearance of a road. Below is a photo of a five lane road in Palm Beach County that meets the standards.

Gun Club Road West Palm Beach Florida

Gun Club Road West Palm Beach Florida

…contrasted with our study section of Forest Hill Boulevard

Forest Hill Boulevard - West Palm Beach

Forest Hill Boulevard – West Palm Beach

The first photo of the standard five lane road provides a 3′ shoulder, 11′ lanes, and 12′ center turn lanes for a total of 62′ of asphalt. Note, the lack of trees because there isn’t room for them. Forest Hill Boulevard only requires 48′ of asphalt for the same five lanes of traffic. The difference between the two roads is dramatic.

On which of these would you rather take a walk or own a home?

The Forest Hill Boulevard section is more nuanced and contextually sensitive to the area where it is located. Designing a street section for an urban environment involves tradeoffs. We must avoid the tyranny of specialists who demand that we design roads to optimize only one outcome for one mode of transportation at the expense of other modes. The “standard” five lane road shown with 62′ of asphalt optimizes auto comfort at the expense of higher maintenance costs, greater stormwater runoff, less comfort for pedestrians, and lower property values. A question that engineers and the public should be asking is if the benefits that wider lanes provide for automobiles outweigh the costs. Does the design make sense for the context in which it is located?

Many of the improvements recommended in the Jeff Speck West Palm Beach Walkability study require that FDOT roads in West Palm Beach have their lanes reduced to a 10′ width. While FDOT has switched from 12′ to 11′ lanes in urban areas there is still significant resistance to adopting lanes narrower than 11′ in width. For those that are frustrated at the continued reluctance to utilize 10′ lanes a quote by the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, may provide some comfort:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Given the Forest Hill precedent that 9′ lanes work in an urban environment then what logical argument is left to deny the use of 10′ lanes in low speed urban roads? Even the Federal Highway Administration is endorsing context sensitive design on streets designed for speeds less than 50 mph. From Streetsblog:

The one-size-fits-all approach to street design has been propagated, in part, by federal standards that apply to a surprisingly large number of urban streets. But not for much longer. In what appears to be a major breakthrough, yesterday the Federal Highway Administration proposed rule changes that will allow cities and towns to more easily design streets in a way that’s consistent with an urban setting.

Bill Schultheiss, an engineer with the Toole Design Group, said the changes are welcome news.

“We need to move away from cookie cutter, cut-and-paste designs and allow engineers to be the creative problem solvers that most of us naturally are,” he said. “This is a tremendous change of direction by FHWA that needs our support.”

It’s worth noting this is a relatively busy minor arterial, according to its FDOT classification. Of course, low volume neighborhood streets can be even skinnier still.

Big Asphalt and the Bigger Takeaway

The American transportation model operates under the belief that if some asphalt is good, more is even better. Wider roads drive positive economic indicators, so the theory goes: More asphalt = more growth, more jobs, more tax base.

Forest Hill Boulevard demonstrates there is a point of diminishing returns to this approach and at some point roadway expansions do not increase our prosperity, but rather decrease it (I highly recommend watching Urban3’s analysis of Palm Beach County property tax productivity for the evidence). Our national obsession with short term growth manifests itself in public malinvestment in highways; repeat this same scenario one million times over and you start to find some answers for why we’re having trouble paying for basic infrastructure maintenance despite decades of robust economic growth post WWII.

If you’re interested in changing things, Strong Towns is an organization working hard to get us back on a path of a fiscally sound development pattern and sustainable transportation funding. Here’s a great place to start the conversation.

Urban3 tax productivity analysis of Palm Beach County

 


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Feds: Build protected bike lanes and narrow lanes!

It’s not easy getting livable streets built. Many engineers still operate under a ‘move the cars’ mindset that does not acknowledge the fundamental differences between a street and a road.

Whether asking for protected bike lanes, narrower travel lanes, or trees in the public right of way, too often the answer is “We can’t do that, it’s not in the manual!”

This new Federal Highway Administration document makes clear: We should be building high-quality bike and walking infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes (There’s a guide for that! For those technicians engineers out there), narrower travel lanes, and trees.

This guidance should help our engineer friends get over their hangups and start designing the places we want on projects such as the South Dixie Corridor, Flagler Drive, and Okeechobee Boulevard. Story from Streetsblog USA.


Reblogged from Streetsblog USA, by Angie Schmitt

The Federal Highway Administration wants to clear the air: Yes, state and local transportation agencies should use federal money to construct high-quality biking and walking infrastructure.

State and local DOTs deploy an array of excuses to avoid building designs like protected bike lanes. “It’s not in the manual” is a favorite. So is “the feds won’t fund that.”

Whether these excuses are cynical or sincere, FHWA wants you to know that they’re bogus.

Last week, the agency released a “clarifying” document that shoots down, on the record, some of the common refrains people hear from their DOT when they ask for safer street designs. This is a good document to print out and take to the next public meeting where you expect a transportation engineer might try the old “my-hands-are-tied” routine.

Here are the seven things FHWA wants to be absolutely clear about:

1. Federal funds CAN be used to build protected bike lanes.

In case any doubt remains, FHWA printed its own design guide for protected bike lanes. It’s okay to use federal money to build them.

2. Federal funds CAN be used for road diets.

FHWA created a whole website to help states and municipalities implement road diets that reduce lanes for motor vehicle traffic to improve safety. FHWA wants local agencies that federal money can be used on them.

3. Engineers are allowed to use design guides other than the AASHTO Green Book for projects that receive federal funds. 

The AASHTO Green Book — published by the association of state DOTs — is a behemoth, but its crusty old street design standards aren’t the only game in town. The protected bike lane templates in the design guidepublished by the National Association of City Transportation Officials are totally kosher. Go ahead and use them. FHWA says it supports a “flexible approach to the planning and design of bike and pedestrian facilities.” That means “It’s not in the Green Book, so we can’t do it” isn’t a valid excuse.

Peter Koonce, a transportation engineer with the City of Portland, said this clarification should make designing quality bike infrastructure easier.

“Agencies like ours occasionally encounter resistance to the use of treatments in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, the FHWA Separated Bike Lane Guide, or other Guidance documents from reviewing agencies [] because there is a lack of familiarity with new treatments, thus a difficulty to apply engineering judgment,” he said. “An example of this is bicycle traffic signals.”

4. “Highway” funding CAN be used for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

It’s not only the Transportation Alternatives Program that can be used to fund bike and pedestrian infrastructure, FHWA says. Many other sources of federal funding can be used to support safer biking and walking in the right circumstances, including funds from the huge pot in the Surface Transportation Program.

5. Vehicle lanes DON’T have to be a certain width to receive federal funds.

No, lanes don’t have to be at least 11 feet wide on the National Highway System or at least nine feet wide on local roads. According to FHWA: “There is no minimum lane width requirement to be eligible for Federal funding.”

FHWA refers to blanket adherence to typical lane-width standards as “nominal safety,” but using engineering judgment based on the particular circumstances as “substantive safety,” urging engineers to practice the latter.

Also: “In appropriate contexts, narrower lanes, combined with other features associated with them, can be marginally safer than wider lanes.”

6. Curb extensions, roundabouts, and trees CAN be used on streets in the National Highway System.

“There is no prohibition on incorporating these features on NHS projects,” FHWA says. “Curb extensions, also known as bulbouts or neckdowns, can have significant benefits for pedestrian safety.”

7. Speed limits DO NOT need to be set using average vehicle speed. 

Another common myth the FHWA addresses is the idea that the speed limit for federally funded roads must be set using the “85th percentile” rule — which means that the limit is based on the speed that the fastest 15 percent of drivers exceed on a road. FHWA calls the 85th Percentile rule “just one part” of an approach that should consider other factors like pedestrian traffic. FHWA has its own tool for calculating appropriate speed limits.


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Who knew? – FDOT design manual already encourages narrowing lanes to 10′ to add bike lanes

Update:

In FDOT’s latest response to our design suggestion they stated that one of the reasons for the proposed 11′ wide lanes is to accommodate Palm Tran buses. Although there are streets where buses successfully operate with 10′ lanes, it is appreciated that FDOT has provided a rational reason for the 11′ wide lanes versus the previous response that 11′ wide lanes are the minimum allowed on state highways.

Here is the original article:

As you may be aware, FDOT has plans to resurface Quadrille Boulevard. At the public open house, several citizens requested that FDOT right size the lanes on Quadrille Boulevard. FDOT subsequently responded that “The Florida Department of Transportation does not allow for travel lanes less than 11’ wide.”  The response letter is shown here:

FDOT response roskowski quadrille blvd 2

FDOT response to citizen requests

This response by FDOT forced the Baron to take on the redesign of Quadrille Boulevard. Well, in the further quest to turn Quadrille Boulevard into Rue de Quadrille the Baron has found even more proof in FDOT’s very own design manuals that 10′ lanes and 9′ left turn lanes are allowed on roads with the urban context of Quadrille. Some of our new readers may be thinking… why would anyone spend their free time reading FDOT design manuals? The reason why is that a decision to require an 11′ lane has real world consequences that lead to perpetuating bad design. Below is the existing (FDOT) and a right sized five lane section for Quadrille from 3rd to Dixie. You can clearly see that a combination of 10.5′ and 10’ wide travel lanes will allow the addition of bike lanes in the five lane section.

quadrille-fdot-five-lane

quadrille-five-lane-w-bike

Quick note – the bike lanes are actually 5.5 feet wide, The bike lane is a combination of 4′ of  asphalt (shown) plus an additional 1.5′ wide concrete gutter – (not shown).

With 11’ lanes there is no room for the bike lanes. We can opine on the merits of 10′ lanes, as Jeff Speck does so eloquently such as slower speeds, lower crash rates, lower maintenance costs, and less strormwater runoff, but in the case of Quadrille you can’t argue with a tape measure. You want bike lanes for Quadrille, you need to go narrower than 11′ lanes.

Even more amazing is what happens when you utilize 10′ travel lanes and a 9′ left turn lane for the existing three lane section with parallel parking. There is now room for a one-way protected cycle track with a buffer against the door zone.  The one way protected cycle track, with 9′ left turn lane, shown below meets the NATCO minimums and is far superior to the door zone bike lanes. This is a great design in that parallel parked cars protect the cyclists rather than the traditional bike lane design where cyclists protect the parked cars from thru traffic. Again, the tape measure doesn’t lie. Without the 9′ left turn lane the buffer on each side of the road is six inches shorter than the NACTO minimums. The question is simple – who should have the buffer? Wider lanes that protect a car to car collision or a buffer between a car door and a cyclist?

quadrille-parallel-parking---protected-cycle-trac

(Note: For this section the 1.5′ gutter pan is included in the 5.5′ bike lane dimension. NACTO minimum dimension for the combined parallel parking with buffer is 11′. Where there is a pavement joint in the bike lane, NACTO only gives credit for one foot of the concrete gutter. Therefore, the effective bike lane is 5′ not the 5.5′ shown, 5′ is the  NACTO minimum.)

Now that we understand what is possible with right sizing lanes, you will see the proof that they are allowed for Quadrille. If you have been around engineers then you know that they love their acronyms. You will often hear highway engineers use the term – “Triple R”. Triple R (RRR) refers to a project whose scope is to Resurface, Restore, and Rehabilitate an existing street or highway. The FDOT Plans Preparation Manual (PPM) has an entire chapter (25) devoted to what should be reviewed with a RRR project and what deficiencies should be corrected or left in place.

FDOT_PPM_cover

Chapter 25 of the FDOT manual states that for every RRR project, FDOT needs to investigate if bike lanes can be added. According to the manual if the road has a design speed of 35 MPH or less and less than 7% trucks and the lanes are being right sized to add bike lanes, then the lanes  may be reduced to 10′ travel lanes and 9′ left turn lanes. I have placed quotes from the manual at the end of the post for those, myself included, who enjoy reading design manuals in their free time. This policy will finally allow us to grab some of the low lying fruit. One major flaw with the FDOT policy is that it only applies to RRR projects. Resurfacing only projects are exempt. In my opinion every resurfacing project needs to be reviewed for right sizing.

As promised here is the proof that you have been waiting for. All the text and tables were copied from the January 1, 2014 edition of the manual. Important parts are in red font and I have added my own editorial commentary in parentheses.

25.4.5 Lane and Shoulder Widths

The minimum widths shown in these tables are to allow existing lanes and shoulders to remain, not to be reduced to these widths unless the purpose is to provide a bicycle lane or increase the width of the outside lane for cyclists. See Section 25.4.19 for further information.

(Therefore, you are allowed to reduce lane width for bike lanes.)

 FDOT_lane_width_table_25.4.5.3

(This means that 10’ lanes are allowed for roads such as Quadrille which has a 30 MPH design speed and per FDOT’s traffic data has a 3% truck factor. Even more interesting is that you can have a 9’ wide left turn lane.)

25.4.19 Pedestrian, Bicyclist and Transit Needs

Whenever a RRR project is undertaken, pedestrian and bicyclist needs must be addressed, and transit needs should be considered. Recommendations by the District Pedestrian/Bicycle Coordinator and the District Modal Development Office shall be obtained; local government and transit agency contact in developing these recommendations is essential. This should be part of the project scoping and programming effort.

25.4.19.2 Bicyclist Needs

  1. Bicycle Lanes, Paved Shoulders, Wide Outside Lanes

For existing sections without bicycle facilities where no widening is planned, consideration shall be given to reducing lane widths to provide bicycle lanes,wide outside lanes or paved shoulders. These facilities shall meet the criteria provided in Chapter 8. Existing thru lane widths on urban multilane roadways and two-lane curb and gutter roadways shall not be reduced to less than 11 feet for design speeds ≥ 40 mph, and to no less than 10 feet for design speeds ≤ 35 mph. See Section 25.4.5 for additional information on lane widths. Coordinate with the District Public Transportation (Modal Development) Office and local transit agency when considering the reduction of lane widths on roadways where public transit routes are present. When bicycle facilities are not provided in accordance with Section 8.1, a Design Variation is required.

(A design variance is a process where FDOT has to justify why they can’t do it.)


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Quadrille Boulevard Make Over

Today’s guest, Baron Haussman, was a French civic planner whose name is associated with the rebuilding of Paris. Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809–1891), who called himself Baron Haussmann, was commissioned by Napoleon III to instigate a program of planning reforms in Paris. Haussmann laid out the Bois de Boulogne, and made extensive improvements in the smaller parks.  A new water supply, a gigantic system of sewers, new bridges, the opera house, and other public buildings, the inclusion of outlying districts – these were among the new prefect’s achievements, accomplished by the aid of a bold handling of the public funds. (Planetizen)

 

This post is borne out of the frustration with FDOT’s current plans for the resurfacing of Quadrille Boulevard. In this post we will demonstrate that is possible to transform Quadrille Boulevard utilizing FDOT’s own design standards. As a recap, FDOT’s current plan for resurfacing Quadrille is basically to put back what we currently have. At the August 27th FDOT open house several savvy citizens pointed out to FDOT that this road has excess pavement and there is an opportunity to right size this road at minimum cost with their resurfacing project.   Suggestions made by citizens ranged from bike lanes or the addition of on-street parking on one side of the road. The City for its part recently completed a study by Jeff Speck that recommended right-sizing lanes to provide parallel parking on one side of the street.

FDOT did respond to our suggestions. Here is the response letter to one citizen:

FDOT response roskowski quadrille blvd 2 FDOT response roskowski quadrille blvd 3

Frankly, FDOT is wrong in their response to the citizen stating that 10’ lanes aren’t allowed on state highways. FDOT’s primary design manual is the Plans Preparation Manual (PPM). The PPM contains a very interesting chapter titled Transportation Design for Livable Communities (TDLC). The TDLC chapter is tucked away at the end of the manual far and away from the geometric requirements for highways and stroads. As shown in the following table from the TDLC chapter there is a footnote that allows thru lanes to be reduced from 11’ to 10’ in width in highly restricted areas with design speeds less  than or equal to 35 MPH, having little or no truck traffic.

tdlc_lane_width

FDOT has already approved a 30 MPH design and posted speed limit for Quadrille. So it possible to utilize 10’ wide lanes. Another thing to keep in mind about Quadrille is that the year 2013 AADT is 10,600. This means that a three lane section is sufficient for the entire project. In FDOT’s project limits Quadrille currently varies from 3 to 5 lanes. The roadway has a fairly consistent 59′ width of pavement excluding the gutter pan. You have another three feet if you count the gutter pan and the Florida Greeenbook TND chapter allows the gutter pan to be counted as a part of travel lane.  Here are few pictures of the five lane section:

IMG_3851

IMG_3847

The current roadway context reads racetrack and not 30 MPH urban core. What would 10’ wide travel lanes allow for Quadrille? First, let us start with FDOT current proposal for the existing 59′ of pavement for the section from Banyan to 3rd:

quadrille-banyan-3rd-fdot

Basically they are going to perpetuate bad design and provide 15′ travel lanes!!! That is some serious extra pavement. What is unconscionable is FDOT response in the letter that they wouldn’t stripe a buffer for the parallel parking since the parallel parking lanes meet the minimum width. Funny that they have no problem having a travel lane exceed the minimum standard width, but heaven forbid you want to narrow the travel lane to the minimum and have a parallel parking lane exceed the minimum width. With that extra width in the parallel parking lane someone might be able to safely open their driver side car door without being hit and the narrower travel lane might slow cars down to the 30 MPH speed limit.

Below are a several potential roadway configurations of what might be possible if we were to right size the road. It should be noted that these concepts are preliminary and need further analysis for feasibility. Issues such as right turn lanes at intersections, (if needed as right turn lanes and walkability aren’t a good mix), and horizontal alignment for roadway transitions haven’t been analyzed, but they give you a quick idea of what might be possible :

Option 1 

quadrille-banyan-3rd-buffered-bike

By utilizing 10′ lanes then bike lanes are a real possibility. Note that parallel parking proposed  is 7.5′ wide, but FDOT”s standard is 8′ wide. This 6″ reduction in width might require a variance, but I think it is useful to provide a slightly wider buffer for the bike lane. I would love an extra two to three feet of extra pavement, but this proposal is a dramatic improvement over the placing of a bike lane next to parallel parking without a buffer. The purpose of the buffer is to reduce injuries when a parallel parked car opens their door into the bike lane. Also, note that the parallel parked cars position provides a wall of steel to protect cyclists. If you want your City to attract millennials, then you need buffered bike lanes.

Next we have an interesting twist on the parallel parking on one side of the road concept.

Option 2

quadrille-half-multi-way-blvd

A partial lane reduction allows a multiway boulevard (access road) with parallel parking to be built on one side of the road. The access road functions as a low speed sharrow and there is room for a bike lane on the other side of the road. A good example of the sharrow bike lane in the access road is Octavio Blvd. in San Francisco. The Dutch are also fans of the multi-way boulevard access road – sharrow – treatment to retrofit existing facilities. Dixie Highway near the intersection with Bridge Road in Hobe Sound Florida has a multi-way boulevard on side of the road. Another advantage is that parallel parking is a breeze with the access road and who wouldn’t want to walk on a sidewalk that is buffered by a slow speed access road?

Here is another option that would add bike lanes to the existing five lane section:

Option 3

quadrille-five-lane-w-bike

Here is the proposal for the five lane section in the Jeff Speck study:

Option 4

quadrille-five-lane-w-parallel-parking

Looking at the above typical sections it is hard to believe that all of them use the same 59′ of existing pavement. The sections above were created using a free website called Streetmix . Streetmix is very easy to use.

With all the press releases about how FDOT gets complete streets I am shocked to see that a street in a downtown urban core with a 30 MPH design speed with 15′ existing travel lanes was scoped as a project to put back what you already have.

So what needs to be done next? I would suggest that you write to FDOT Secretary Prasad, copy your elected officials, and request that you would like to have FDOT investigate alternative typical sections that right size this road. The right sizing can take many forms from parking to bike lanes. If you like one of the designs in the post then I would go ahead and include it in your letter. Ask FDOT why can’t the road be striped the way you want?  Make sure to mention Transportation  Design for Livable Communities (TDLC). Hopefully, rational voices will prevail and FDOT can engage in a meaningful dialog with the citizens of West Palm Beach on the right size configuration of Quadrille.

Also, I would like the City to formally request FDOT to employ their TDLC procedures to develop concepts for Quadrille Boulevard which increase parking and / or provide bike facilities. Maybe Quadrille Boulevard could serve as a model for how FDOT implements complete streets with resurfacing projects.


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Quadrille Boulevard could be first to be redesigned for livability, safety

Last week, I received a letter with FDOT responses to public comment made at the August 27th open house meeting regarding the project to resurface and restripe Quadrille Boulevard from Clematis Street north to Dixie.

Quadrille blvd TIP project MPO

Project details from FDOT

To briefly recap the meeting, about ten stakeholders showed up. Every single person was united in a desire for more livable street design and safety, including narrowing of travel lanes and addition of some combination of bike lanes and/or parallel parking. I did not hear anyone express enthusiasm for the FDOT plan as it stood and a good deal of the conversation was a hearty debate about Lane width, with many present attacking FDOT for building dangerous by design roads through our city. Mr. Le, PE, stated that FDOT essentially does not allow lanes of less than 11′ on a road with a design speed of 35 mph or greater. This begs the question: why does FDOT feels it is necessary to have a design speed well over 35 mph through an urban core, with all the data indicating how speed kills? Why are our roads designed to prioritize speed, rather than safety?

At one point in the meeting, after listening patiently to the engineers explain their plan for their stretch of roadway ad nauseum, I interjected strongly to state our position for what we want, as a resident and representative of our neighborhood. It was apparent that the officials were merely going through the motions, checking off the necessary boxes in a process to lead FDOT to where they want to end up. Unsurprisingly, the response letter I received reflected this, essentially dismissing all of the comment myself and others made. At least I included Speck’s recommendations for this segment of Quadrille and it is in the public record, for what it’s worth.

This is a very timely debate as the public’s simmering discontent over dangerous by design county and FDOT roads builds to a boil. Jeff Speck’s article last week puts the onus on FDOT to prove why 10′ lanes shouldn’t be built in an urban setting, with ample evidence to back up the safety benefits. For its part, FDOT has recently issued a memo supporting Complete Streets, a positive move in the right direction for which they are to be applauded. Meanwhile, on a project for which they could make a safer and more responsive choice, today, by simply restriping lanes differently, FDOT is ignoring this mandate. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Even our local MPO director is pushing for safer designs that account for all users. He recommends we start with resurfacing projects such as this one. It doesn’t have to cost a bunch of money. From the Sun Sentinel:

“We need to think about reconstructing what we have in a better fashion,” said Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director Nick Uhren, at a recent meeting. “How do we implement complete streets in resurfacing projects? How do we improve safety on roads for cyclists and pedestrians?”

The Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization, the county’s transportation planning agency, is pushing for the concept.

As the planning organization is updating its long-range plan, it has added the implementation of complete streets principles as one of its top goals with the focus on redevelopment areas and urban centers such as downtowns.

Here’s what the Federal Highway Administration’s PEDSAFE tool recommends for Quadrille Boulevard. Fewer lanes, lane narrowing, and bike lanes top recommendations.

Pedestrian_Safety_Guide_and_Countermeasure_Selection_System

FDOT has an opportunity to align words with deeds and make our streets safer and more livable, now.  Let’s take the opportunity to restripe this roadway in a manner that supports complete streets and safer transportation for all users.


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Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now | via CityLab

If you’ve been following the walkability study for downtown, you know how crucial 10 foot lanes on Okeechobee Boulevard are to the plan. Jeff Speck makes a persuasive argument for 10′ lanes in urban areas in this article in CityLab.

The agency’s bike and pedestrian coordinator, Billy Hattaway, is one of the good ones. But does he have the power to move FDOT to a 10-foot standard?

Moving beyond Florida, the task is clear. Our lives are currently being put at risk daily by fifty state DOTs and hundreds of county road commissions who mistakenly believe that high-speed street standards make our cities and towns safer. In my most considered opinion, these agencies have blood on their hands, and more than a little. There are many standards that they need to change, but the easiest and most important is probably the 12-foot lane. Armed with the facts, we can force this change. But only if we do it together.

It’s time to push this discussion to its logical conclusion. Until conflicting evidence can be mustered, the burden of proof now rests with the DOTs. Until they can document otherwise, every urban 12-foot lane that is not narrowed to 10 feet represents a form of criminal negligence; every injury and death, perhaps avoidable, not avoided—by choice.

In the meantime, I welcome evidence to the contrary. We’ve shown them our studies; now let them show us theirs. Unless, of course, they’ve thrown them out.

Via CityLab.  Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now – CityLab.

Past stories on Okeechobee Stroad: https://walkablewpb.com/tag/okeechobee-stroad/


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Federal Highway Administration endorses NACTO Urban Street Design Guide, 10′ travel lanes

The tide is turning. The auto-only mobility model is being challenged as people are seeing the diminishing returns of ever-expanding subsidized roadways. The public return on investment just isn’t good enough. The sooner Palm Beach County and FDOT Southeast Florida get on board, the better off we will be as a region. The NACTO Urban Street Design Guide endorses 10′ travel lanes, as recommended by Jeff Speck in his forthcoming walkability report.

When FHWA gives the green light, there are no more excuses left.

From Streetsblog:
FHWA to Engineers: Go Ahead and Use City-Friendly Street Designs
by Tanya Snyder

NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide includes engineering guidance for transit boulevards.
The heavyweights of American transportation engineering continue to warm up to design guides that prioritize walking, biking, and transit on city streets. On Friday, the Federal Highway Administration made clear that it endorses the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ Urban Street Design Guide, which features street treatments like protected bike lanes that you won’t find in the old engineering “bibles.”

FHWA “supports the use of the Urban Street Design Guide in conjunction with” standard engineering manuals such as AASHTO’s Green Book and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), the agency said in statement released on Friday. FHWA had already endorsed NACTO’s bikeway design guide last August. The new statement extends its approval to the more comprehensive Urban Street Design Guide, which also covers measures to improve pedestrian space and transit operations.

Federal approval of what were until recently considered “experimental” street designs means that more engineers and planners will feel comfortable implementing them without fear of liability.