Monday, April 15, 2013

Neutral ground

Salt Lake City has ridiculously wide streets. Inhumanly wide. They've made car travel much easier, because it's possible to fit 7-8 lanes of traffic down one street without it being too much of an issue. Even on 400 South, where the light rail is, there are still three lanes of traffic on both sides.

On my street (1200 East) they've fitted the street with very large central islands. It's a residential street, with no need for the width for traffic, so the islands cut it down to something much more reasonable.

Specifically, I am thinking of Salt Lake's effort to  transform some of the streets into 'bike boulevards'. Take 500 South. It originally looked like thus. Currently, one the lanes has been removed, and re-striped as a bike lane. A mess of orange bollards has been erected (also making it impossible to plow). Not a fan.

But it makes me wonder if it might not be possible to do something that looks a little nicer, and combine the two. Borrow something from the 'neutral ground' idea that prevails on the New Orleans tram (and the Eugene BRT.

Viz: Rather than bus lines down the side of the street, a big central green-space with bike lanes running down the center of the street. Grass lasts longer than paint (being self renewing), and would reduce the total volume of street needing paved.

It would have to be wide enough to run a snowplow down, though.