Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cedar Springs gets its Lipstick

In April, I gave a brief overview of the Uptown area of Dallas and what I'd consider to improve the urbanity of the district. One of those would have been a road diet for Cedar Springs. From the post:

 Despite having the same amount of through lanes (than McKinney), Cedar Springs is roughly 50 percent wider. Each lane is one-two feet wider and there is also a center turning lane. Since the street is made for automobiles, there are no trees near the curb, primarily because traffic engineers deem them a hazard (more on that point in a moment). The sidewalks are narrow. There are no amenities like shade or benches. Buffer zones like on-street parking, poles or the aforementioned trees aren't anywhere to be seen. There isn't even local transit service.

My recommendations to fix Cedar Springs would be to remove the center turn lane, narrow the lanes, widen the sidewalk and add on-street metered parking.

Well, work has begun, sorta, on the first recommendation, but it will not improve the urban street scene. The turn lane is being replaced by a median. Everything else that makes Cedar Springs so dysfunctional will remain, and the "fix" they are doing now will not improve anything for the pedestrian or reign in the speed of the cars on the road.

The sidewalks will not be widened, leaving the narrow four-foot-wide strip in place, meaning that there is a small amount of space for when two groups of pedestrians cross, an awkward moment at best, border line dangerous at worst, given the very close proximity of the fast moving cars.

There will be no added on-street parking. The cars will still zoom by folks on the side of the street at uncomfortable rates of speed, just a few feet away, adding another uncomfortable layer to anyone walking here.

The lanes will still be very close to freeway width, encouraging faster speeds to drivers of the cars, adding yet another discomfort for walkers.

The only benefits, albeit minor, are it will improve the aesthetics of the roadway and removing the turning lane will slow traffic a bit at entrances to properties along the roadway. However, seeing how Dallas does not have a shortage of auto-oriented streets with a landscaped medians where pedestrian counts can be measured with fingers and the turning lanes will still exist at the intersections of other streets, the benefits from an urban perspective will be small.

Once again, instead of doing something urban, Dallas does something by the book...the one written by the traffic engineers.

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