Where does this road diet rule come from?

55th Street road diet from summer 2012. This is the best road diet photo I’ve got. Traffic counts here indicate 15,700 cars daily (based on a single day of measurement in 2006).

“Roadways with Average Daily Traffic (ADT) of 20,000 or less may be good candidates for a road diet and should be evaluated for feasibility”, via FHWA. The documents – here’s the second one – I’ve found so far on FHWA’s website don’t explain the research behind this assumption. How should a road be evaluated for feasibility? The second one bases review of a street on crash type, severity, and rate.

View 4600 W Foster Avenue in a larger map. Alderman Laurino is correct in her description of how many lanes are here. The road is only striped for 1 lane in each direction.

This concerns me because CDOT seems to have adopted this as a policy. They are using it as a reason to not consider a road diet on Foster Avenue. However, though, Foster Avenue between Pulaski Road and the Edens Expressway has only “1 and a half lanes” in each direction, according to local Alderman Marge Laurino of the 39th Ward (see John Greenfield’s interview below, which is an expanded version of one published on Grid Chicago in two parts).


Greenfield: Where in your ward would you like to see speed cameras installed?

Laurino: Well right now I don’t know that we have locations that would fit some of the criteria that we’re looking at. Currently I think the ones that they’re putting in are going to be where there have been pedestrian fatalities and I don’t know that I have anything that fits that really strict criteria but I would… Just a suggestion, Foster Avenue in front of Gompers Park. I mean it’s often times an area where cars really speed because for whatever reason, where there are no homes and that and it’s just wide-open parkland people just seem to hit the accelerator. I don’t know why that it but it appears to be the case.

JG: Is that a long stretch with no stoplights?

ML: From Pulaski to Cicero it’s a long stretch and it’s not one lane. I want to call it one-and-a-half lanes. There really shouldn’t be two lanes of traffic going in one direction but they seem to squeeze that in. So anyway that might be a potential place for a camera. We’re also looking at something called a road diet, where we just, through paint markings and paint striping, make the street narrower. That would be on Foster Avenue, let’s say between central Park and Cicero.

JG: Is there any talk of putting in bike lanes there to take up the extra space?

ML: No, for whatever reason it doesn’t fit their criteria.

The Green Lane project is announced in Chicago

I covered this event for a Streetsblog article (which has been delayed). Essentially the Bikes Belong Foundation and its donors are trying to get “better bike lanes” (Euro-style) installed faster across North America. It’s more of a strategic planning thing; the money isn’t going to be used for paying for construction of the bike lanes.

It’s about knowledge sharing and technical assistance and documenting the process. Eventually this knowledge will be shared with all cities in the whole country. But essentially, Austin, Texas, can use this network to be able to get some help from Chicago or San Francisco, without incurring on those cities’ ability to quickly get their own lanes in.

See all photos from the soirée and then the next day’s press conference (Wednesday, May 30, and Thursday, May 31).

I am somewhat impressed that the director of the Federal Highway Administration*, Victor Mendez, pictured above, came from Washington, D.C., to tell us about the federal government’s support for bike lanes. I wish he could have said the same thing about House Republicans’ support. They’re against transit, too. I asked Victor to tell transportation secretary Ray LaHood to read Grid Chicago.

Watch this video by Nick Brazinsky. I believe he was hired by Bikes Belong to shoot it. That he roller skates to take video makes the film a little cooler.

The Green Lane cities are:

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Austin, Texas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Francisco, California
  • Memphis, Tennessee (this one’s inclusion is exciting)

* The FHWA administers bike lane funding, as well as funding for roads and highways. They are in charge of the CMAQ, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, funding program.