Urban Fold

Life is a Two-Way Street

Vancouver, Washington's Main St. had languished for years, until city officials turned the street back to two-way traffic. Everyone was surprised at how much difference it made.

"Within a few weeks, the entire business community was celebrating. 'We have twice as many people going by as they did before,' one of the employees at an antique store told a local reporter. The chairman of the Vancouver Downtown Association, Lee Coulthard, sounded more excited than almost anyone else. 'It's like, wow,' he exclaimed, 'why did it take us so long to figure this out?'

A year later, the success of the project is even more apparent."

Full Story: The Return of the Two-Way Street



Return of the Two-Way Street

Sure. Two-way streets make a lot of sense, but, as was mentioned in the article, the speed of the cars makes a world of difference.

Speeds under 20mph make for good pedestrian/car interactions for 3 reasons:

1) Slower car speed gives pedestrians and drivers more reaction times to communicate and interact.

2) Slower car speeds compress the variation in speeds that cars are traveling making it far, far easier for pedestrians to judge oncoming traffic.

3) Lower speed limits make drivers much more attentive and aware that they are part of an "ecology" on that street, that pedestrians have a say in the interactions, and that drivers must act accordingly.

Here's a simple rubric for cars in an urban area:

A) Reduce their numbers
B) Slow them down
C) Keep them moving

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