Syracuse is a vehicle oriented city. We are accustomed to driving to our jobs and activities and brag to visitors about our ability to get anywhere in this region in 15 minutes. But, what if we could have a vehicle AND pedestrian oriented city.
Many cities across the country are benefiting from traffic calming techniques, used to slow traffic and encourage pedestrian activity in the inner core as well as along more populated corridors. Known as Road Diets, the idea is to the idea is to reduce traffic speeds, traffic lanes, and intersection sizes in hopes of encouraging pedestrian activity and safety.
Road diets have been successfully implemented in cities similar in population to Syracuse and have greatly improved the cities walkability and economy while still allowing for traffic volumes. There are several factors that work together in determining whether a neighborhood or street would benefit from a diet:
- Moderate volumes (8-15,000 ADT)
- Roads with safety issues
- Popular or essential bicycle routes/links
- Commercial reinvestment areas
- Economic enterprise zones
- Historic streets
- Entertainment districts
- Main streets
If implemented successfully, Syracuse could use this type of concept in planning for the future of the Route 81 corridor as well as taking a look at the impacts it would have on Salina Street. Reducing speeds and improving pedestrian activity and safety along these economically significant avenues could generate benefits such as increased sales for retailers, improved walkability and pedestrian activity and reduced traffic incidents.
Surely, you are thinking that a decrease in traffic lanes would slow traffic, but if in fact traffic flows seamlessly. Drivers are more attentive, speeds are reduced and aggressive driving is minimized, making streets safer for drivers as well as pedestrians.
Traffic calming and road dieting techniques have improved many urban and populated areas across the country. Successful planning and design have improved corridors and created places meant for people, as opposed to vehicles. What does our city stand to gain from losing a few lanes?