The highlight of the Dallas Festival of Ideas this weekend was seeing Janette Sadik-Khan speak. As former NYC DOT commissioner, she was instrumental in the design and installation of protected bike lanes, public plazas, Vision Zero policies and the redesign of many streets into more pedestrian-friendly public places. Her agency also produced an enormous amount of studies, best practices, and real world results which I’ve often referenced professionally and personally. If you’re not familiar with her work, visit NYC when you have the chance. You’ll see the very best practices of street design which are innovative and research supported. You’ll see things which every transportation planner and city transportation agency can learn something from.
During Ms. Sadik-Khan’s presentation, she referenced a few Dallas streets that could benefit from lane reductions and bike lanes. Streets like Ross Ave., which are quickly becoming more urban and mixed use, can benefit from simple restriping and the addition of bike lanes to accommodate higher residential densities and nearby restaurants (after all, cyclists do spend money and shop). She often made the point that many of the most transformative projects involve the simple reallocation of public right of way through repainting a street in lieu of full reconstruction. Making our public right of way safer and more comfortable for additional modes of travel is often far more affordable than many realize.
Many of Dallas’ thoroughfares and arterials remind me of NYC’s Avenues before they were converted to complete streets. For instance, there’s enormous potential in a 5 lane street because of the amount of right of way available. Given the amount of traffic on very wide streets (traffic volumes are often below capacity and stagnant over the last 10 years), converting them into something more livable through low-cost restriping projects is a great opportunity not only for our bike program but for traffic safety. Case studies of already-built road projects show enormous traffic and pedestrian safety benefits of lane reductions and the addition of bike lanes – especially when going from 4 to 3 lanes with a middle turn lane.
Livability not only means major development projects and full street reconstruction. Janette Sadik-Khan shows what’s possible with a little bit of paint and a lot of imagination. Her work in NYC speaks for itself.