After seeing the preliminary plans for Downtown transportation changes, and given my recent trip to Columbia and Peru I decided to highlight a few examples from Bogota and Lima as a perspective. Plus with all the great things happening in Downtown this month, I needed a lazy blog topic….
As I mentioned in the Transit Center posts from last year, the South and Western extensions to Light Rail will require major changes to how cars and people will get around downtown. The preliminary 10 year plan now seems to limit traffic on Central Ave from Jefferson to Van Buren. For many reasons I think this is short sighted, but I understand that it is the Street Departments reaction to a lack of forethought and future planning. (Intersecting all four directions, 8 tracks At Grade in Downtown?)
However, should this plan be implemented a configuration similar to that of central Bogota would be a decent guide. With Light Rail, a shared bus / local traffic access lane, a dedicated bike path and a shaded shared space pedestrian design, there may be enough activity and access not to kill the adjacent businesses
Mediate the 7’s:
I am fully behind the idea of putting large medians down the 7’s in downtown. I posted some of the pictures below while I was gone to illustrate the amazing pedestrian medians in Lima (Miraflores). However, these need to be on both 7’s from Portland to Jefferson and only allow left turns at Van Buren and Jefferson. There should also be future planning to add similar medians to McDowell and Lincoln truly defining the downtown boundaries.
These arterial roads in Lima carry a large amount of traffic and yet personally as a pedestrian walking along or across them I felt comfortable and un-intimidated. These main boulevard streets tend to become a prime real estate location for residential developments. I have very little doubt that had Phoenix implemented similar plans 10 years ago the idea of a gas station at 7th street and Roosevelt would seem as ridiculous to the council as it does to the community. Despite that, there is still enough infill opportunity along these current disasters, that with a little help, good urban development could take place.
The simplicity of taking a few basic planters, paint, and maybe add a road diet to create protected bike lanes quickly and cheaply can be illustrated by Bogota’s example. However, (and I know this may be unpopular) whenever not enough space exists both Bogota and Lima continued the lanes onto sidewalks and into shared pedestrian spaces. We have some very wide and underutilized sidewalks downtown, and so continuing bike lanes from roads to sidewalks into shared spaces and back again needs to be an acceptable interim option. The key is continuation of the path.
Overall I was happy to see some good ideas in the preliminary downtown transportation study. But seeing that many cities were implementing similar ideas 10 years ago, we need to push our city to be more than just ‘caught up’ by the end of the decade.