Why Kings Road is ready for a road diet

August 28, 2015 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

3. Better for Transit

Some mistakenly believe that road diets make it more difficult to pass slow or stopped buses, causing automobile traffic to clog up. This only happens if our roadway engineers refuse to embrace innovation. Kings Road isn't the only narrow, four-lane undivided roadway that has been considered for a road diet in Florida. Tampa's Nebraska Avenue is the same width as Kings Road. In 2008, FDOT District 7 coordinated with Atkins, a consulting firm, to design a road diet that features pedestrian refuges, sidewalk enhancements and bike lanes. In addition to these common road diet features, the corridor was also designed to accommodate a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and BRT stations. The redesign also allows through traffic to pass stopped buses. According to Project for Public Spaces bike crashes were reduced from 5.0 to 2.7 a year, while pedestrian crashes dropped from 7.0 to 2.7 per year. Now an improved corridor for cyclist and pedestrians, transit ridership has nearly doubled since the road diet was implemented.

See more photographs of Nebraska Avenue's BRT corridor HERE

4. Balanced Roadways Create Better Economic Opportunities

Edgewater Drive in Orlando after it was reduced from 4 to 3 lanes.

2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Interstate Highway System. Since the first interstate highway opened, many have developed a faulty theory that economic opportunity increases with the number of lanes a roadway has. Perhaps that had some validity in the 20th century as neighborhoods like Durkeeville declined in population as residents left in droves for economic opportunity in the suburbs. However, Kings Road has been four lanes for decades and it certainly isn't booming with economic opportunity. On the other hand, two similar roadways, one in Orlando and another in Jacksonville, have come back to life after their road diets.

In 2001, the City of Orlando coordinated with FDOT District 5 to take Edgewater Drive from 4 to 3 lanes in the College Park neighborhood. A year later, a City of Orlando Before & After Evaluation concluded that crash rates went down, while pedestrian and bicycle volumes increased. However, the best was yet to come. After the road diet, Edgewater Avenue's struggling commercial corridor transformed itself into a bonefide pedestrian friendly retail and dining district. Closer to home, San Marco's Hendricks Avenue has added several restaurants, specialty shops, banks and a craft brewery since its early 2000s road diet was completed.

High Tide Burrito is one of several businesses to open on Hendricks Avenue since it was reduced from 4 to 3 lanes.

Still not a believer in the effectiveness of road diets on streets with obsolete four-lane undivided configurations like Kings Road? Here's a video by author Jeff Speck and 3D artist Spencer Boomhower that describes how some of the most common and most effective road-diet redesigns work.

Jeff Speck: Four Road Diets from Cupola Media on Vimeo.

To encourage FDOT District 2 to do the right thing and make Kings Road a safer corridor for all residents, take a few seconds to leave your comments HERE

Editorial by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

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