More on Campus Drive

In a pair of recent posts, I argued that BYU’s planned campus redesign is flawed at best. Though I don’t doubt that it’ll be pretty in the vague, office-park way that most of BYU is pretty, I seriously question its positive impacts on Provo generally. The best case scenario, I think, is that we don’t notice much of a difference.

But a redesign that makes Campus Drive — currently slated for closure — more pedestrian friendly could be a fantistic and successful project. To get there, however, it would need to be based not on a suburban grass-plus-parking lots model, but on a multi-modal one. I’m thinking of streets in Paris or Rome; they generally allow cars but under conditions that make walking safe and appealing.

But BYU doesn’t have to look to Europe for an example; west Campus Drive is already what I’m talking about.

This part of Campus Drive is slated for closure.

This part of Campus Drive is slated for closure.

However, this part of Campus Drive is not part of the upcoming redesign.

However, this part of Campus Drive is not part of the upcoming redesign.

The west half of Campus Drive winds slowly around the south and west sides of campus. It includes only two lanes — one in each direction — and is shaded by old buildings with shallow set backs and big trees. Cars typically drive slowly and pedestrians cross at will.* It’s not perfect, but it’s much closer to being perfect than either the eastern section of the same street, or the proposed redesign.

Somewhat surprisingly, Google Street View is available in the area:

A section of Campus Drive on the west side of BYU.

A section of Campus Drive on the west side of BYU.

This image is from the south side of campus and coincidentally shows how angled parking can be used on a non-commerial street.

This image is from the south side of campus and coincidentally shows how angled parking can be used on a non-commerial street. I’m not sure why there are neither cars nor people in these pictures. My guess is they were taken when school was out.

The point is that it’s not necessarily encouraging or inviting to drivers, but it’s not impenetrable either.

East Campus Drive, however, is going from one extreme to another. It’s currently a big, fast street but will soon cease to be a route at all for cars.

As I’ve said before, BYU’s campus redesign is not terrible. (This is an example of terrible news.) It’s just disappointing to see what are clearly good intentions being squandered on something that could easily be better. And as one of BYU’s own streets demonstrates, there are ways to make streets safe and useable for everyone no matter what their mode of transportation.

*The last time I tried to drive on west Campus Drive it was closed for construction. The closure didn’t look permanent, but if it is I would be disappointed. And in any case, the point I’m making is based on the historical state of west Campus Drive, not any future state.

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4 Comments

Filed under BYU, construction, Development

4 responses to “More on Campus Drive

  1. Philip

    I believe west Campus Drive is closed to the public. I seem to remember this happening about ten years ago when I lived near the campus, but I could be wrong about that date. That would pre-date most of the construction that has occurred on that side of campus.
    I imagine it was closed because of the heavy vehicle traffic from drop-offs/pick-ups that clogged the road – and possibly concerns for pedestrian safety since there are multiple crosswalks along the road.

    Here’s some current general parking/traffic info:
    https://police.byu.edu/content/parking-services-general-information

    • During business hours there is a gate though on weekends and early/late the public can get through. (Or could, before the construction on that new life sciences building began.)

      • Philip

        I didn’t know it had been open at those times. Open on weekends makes sense, for church meetings and such.

        It would make a nice “bike boulevard” if it was open all the time for bikes.

      • Yeah that would be cool. Though, I officially it sort already is; the gate leaves room for bikes and I was never stopped by the guard when I would ride up there. Still, not everyone did that when I was there.

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