Speck meeting required reading list now includes “More than one way to think about urban streets.”


The sheer weight of evidence supporting Jeff Speck’s conclusions in his Downtown Street Network Proposal is mountainous, and while it is quaintly noteworthy that Jim and Irv found a solitary and widely discredited study financed by petrochemical oligarchs arguing against two-way streets and the like, in reality, the Ten Run Rule of this debate should have gone into effect roughly two years and three meetings ago.

Just this week, Gilderbloom and Riggs were at it again, providing Jim and Irv with more facts to merrily ignore amid the roar.

More than one way to think about urban streets, by John Gilderbloom and William Riggs (Special to The Courier-Journal)

A year ago, The Courier-Journal published our op-ed on the positive outcomes of converting multi-lane one-way streets to two-way traffic flow, and the piece went viral. It became one of the top downloaded pieces by planners, elected officials and public administrators and sparked a movement for citizens to take back their streets.

We found many pluses and no negatives: Traffic accidents, crime and abandonments fell and housing prices had a spike that was higher than any other neighborhood. Mom-and-pop business enterprises had an increase in profits, with more people choosing to move from one-ways to two-ways. Jeff Speck, the author of the New York Times bestseller “Walkable City,” gave a great shout-out on a tweet which likely encouraged thousands more to read it, but we recognized the limitation of our work …

 … Obviously, one neighborhood and two streets provide a nice case study but we knew more work was needed to overturn 65 years of city planning that facilitated auto traffic. We needed to go from a micro to a macro analysis.

So we put back on our lab coats and expanded the study for all of Louisville

 … The results of this study not only confirmed our earlier analysis of the positive outcomes of two-way conversion, but were even more compelling.

The following was published here in January, and bears repeating.

Go ahead.

Give me that “common sense” perspective.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

It’s harder for a pedestrian to cross narrowed lanes on a slowed two-way street than wider lanes on a speedy one-way street?

Lanes on Pearl Street, which accommodated two-way traffic for 150 years, are somehow too narrow for two-way traffic in 2015?

You drive on two-way State Street every day, but you think that if two-way traffic were restored to Market Street, suddenly there’d be head-on collisions hourly?

All the parking spaces downtown will disappear overnight?

All these opinions, and yet you’re unaware of voluminous sources of factual information designed to provide enlightenment derived from real world experience?

It’s your lucky day, because here’s a handy visual guide I’ve put together to help you.

Plenty of articles to read, too.

Destinations Booksellers can help you with Walkable City, the book by Jeff Speck, and you can read about Speck’s book here: “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” Excerpt.

The city of New Albany has posted Speck’s recently released Downtown Street Network Proposal, which explains exactly how these proposals would work in our city, and why they should.

They’d work to connect and enhance progress already under way: Two-Way Streets Can Fix Declining Downtown Neighborhoods, by John Gilderbloom, and Gilderbloom’s (and Matt Hanka’s) original research. You see, when it comes to safety, Studies Refute DOT’s Claim That One-Way Avenues Are Safer:

“One-way street networks can result in more pedestrian accidents, particularly among children. This effect has been noted in a number of transportation studies published in respected academic journals.”

As the streets pertain to independent small businesses, New Albany’s jobs generators these past few years, Two-Way Street Networks (are) More Efficient than Previously Thought. Businesses in Vancouver, Washington are well placed to tell Bob Caesar precisely where to put his half-baked, apocryphal engineering theories.

The Return of the Two-Way Street; Why the double-yellow stripe is making a comeback in downtowns, Alan Ehrenhalt (Governing)

… The city council tried a new strategy. Rather than wait for the $14 million more in state and federal money it was planning to spend on projects on and around Main Street, it opted for something much simpler. It painted yellow lines in the middle of the road, took down some signs and put up others, and installed some new traffic lights. In other words, it took a one-way street and opened it up to two-way traffic.

Merchants on Main Street had high hopes for this change. But none of them were prepared for what actually happened following the changeover on November 16, 2008. In the midst of a severe recession, Main Street in Vancouver seemed to come back to life almost overnight.

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?”

JeffG (who shared the photo above, courtesy of Revolution News), provides this important postscript.

When dealing with naysayers, it will be important (especially for city officials) to ask for actual evidence, documentation, etc., in support of their position. A random opinion is not the same and doesn’t deserve the same weight as well researched, rational arguments. And like Paul, I would ask that anyone’s take on the matter be made public. The City can’t say, as they previously have, that they’ve heard from unnamed “people” against it. If you refuse to be counted, you don’t count.