After my post a couple of weeks ago on 100 South, a commentor accurately pointed out that despite shortcomings that street has actually improved lately. The comment concluded with a challenge to think about what could be done to improve the street, short of making it narrower.
That’s a great challenge. While I think narrowing the street and increasing density is possible and would be the best solution, those are obviously costly and longterm projects. I think there’s a good chance they’ll happen, but either way, what could be done to improve the area in the short-term?
While considering that question I happened upon a post by Charles Marohn about Kanas City, Missouri. Marohn explains that on a recent trip to the city he road his bike down a massive street that paradoxically had no traffic. Specifically, he points out that the wide, underused street needlessly costs money, wastes time, is unsafe, and limits desirability. Every one of those problems applies to 100 South.
Some of Marohn’s solutions also apply to 100 South. For example, he suggests striping for “bike and/or buffers.” 100 South already has bike lanes, but they’re only separated from car lanes by a single painted line. They’re also located to the left of curbside parking.
It’d be fairly easy to improve these bike lanes. For example, they could be given a larger buffer between car lanes, much like the Barcelona bike lanes in the first few pictures of this post.
The bike lanes also could be moved to the right of parked cars, as has been done in other cities to improve safety. This minor street would also be a great way to experiment with new types of bike lanes in Provo and could help drivers become accustomed to a different style of parking.
The overall effect of these changes would be improved safety and possibly narrower car lanes, which is another of Marohn’s suggestions. These ideas are also similar to those suggested in a video from this post on a poorly designed street in Powell, Wyoming.
In addition to improving bike lanes, it’d also be nice to see 100 South become more pedestrian friendly.
The picture above shows that 100 South has crosswalks — which is more than can be said for many Provo intersections — but no stop or yield signs or traffic lights. Marohn actually criticizes the too-frequent imposition of traffic signals, but because 100 South has so little traffic and is not a major roadway I think it makes sense to install signs clarifying pedestrian-vehicle right of way.
In addition to improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure on this street, I’d also favor eliminating the center turn lane. I’m no traffic engineer, but it seems unnecessary to have a turn lane designed to prevent congestion when there are insufficient cars to create congestion in the first place. As I mentioned above, I’d prefer to simply narrow the whole street but barring that a center parkstrip like the one on Center Street could be added in place of the turn lane.
There are other things I’d do as well: offer incentives to bolster the business community on 100 South; add mid-block pedestrian paths connecting 100 South and Center Street to facilitate pedestrian permeability; get rid of the crumbling city center and along with it the equally horrible parking lots. Ultimately, the possibilities are endless.