Grim Arterial Street or a Multi-way Boulevard ?

The Grim Arterial Street 150' ROW.
The Grim Arterial Street 150′ ROW.

The most challenging piece of the Amador Proximo charrette with Placemakers was figuring out how to deal with an unfortunate arterial street bordering the 60+ acre infill site on the West. This street could be anywhere in the US.  Chuck Marohn calls these unlovable high speed thoroughfares “Stroads”.  Neither a road between towns or a street in town.

Link to “Stroads” at

Our proposed solution was two  11′ through lanes in each direction with a center median with turn pockets and two low speed side drives providing access to the parcels along the boulevard with a median separating the through lanes from the side drives.  The side drives would allow businesses along the boulevard to stay in operation while the center lanes and medians were being constructed.

Illustration by Andrew von Maur.  Walking down the side drive of the proposed Multi-way Boulevard.
Illustration by Andrew von Maur. Walking down the side drive of the proposed Multi-way Boulevard.

We heard from serious local cyclists that a dedicated cycle track in the side drive median would be preferred over cyclists sharing the slower speed side drive, so we modified the section.

Proposed section redlined after meeting with local cyclists.
Proposed section redlined after meeting with local cyclists.

This approach has a shot at getting built, as the state DOT is in the process of negotiating an agreement with the city of Las Cruces to turn this section of the State Highway over to the city and the DOT has allocated funds to do some improvements to the current “stroad before turning it over.    A good deal for everyone.  The Boulevard will produce much higher economic value for the adjoining properties and the traffic capacity and safety of the arterial street will be significantly improved.

Plan view of the proposed Boulevard section, Existing Buildings in Black.
Plan view of the proposed Boulevard section, Existing Buildings in Black.

If you are interested in this approach to taming unfortunate streets, I recommend The Boulevard Book by Allen Jacobs and Elizabeth McDonald.

Link to the Boulevard Book on Amazon

2 thoughts on “Grim Arterial Street or a Multi-way Boulevard ?

  1. James July 7, 2015 / 11:47 pm

    John, the cycle track is not in a good place – it will almost certainly fail on safety standpoints and it’s position is also socially isolating. The cycle track as currently drawn is located next to fast, loud, traffic with little buffer (poor subjective safety) and also in a position most likely to be involved in a fast “right-hook” style of accident, there’s conflict with traffic attempting to re-enter the road, and traffic making a left hand turn across oncoming traffic to enter the side streets (actual safety problems).

    If the bicycle track is positioned beside the sidewalk with a 3 foot dooring buffer on the parked car side (no buffer is needed between the cycle track and sidewalk) – that not only puts an extra 9 or so feet distance between pedestrians and cars, but creates opportunities for cyclists to stop – for shops, people they know walking, anything of interest. People on bikes are fast pedestrians, they’re not slow cars.

    With the cycle track positioned against the sidewalk, the negatives go away – there’s not a subjective safety problem – it’s a calm, safe place to be…the fast right hook danger is eliminated, if someone is on the slow street and right hooks to enter a side road the speeds and danger are much-much lower. If someone turns from the fast lane to head down a side street they will be in full view from the front and there will be time to stop. If someone makes a left across traffic to go down a side street they will be able to get out of the way of oncoming traffic and have time to stop (without crossing the cycle track).

    Positioning adjacent to the sidewalk is also socially empowering…people like seeing other people and you can safely stop and step up onto the sidewalk if you see your friends. As you’re riding you may smell some coffee and pastries and decide to visit a cafe. These things will not happen if cyclists are 25 feet away next to cars doing 35mph with parked cars and trees in the way – you lose that human interaction.

    The Netherlands has 40 years of building excellent cycling infrastructure that has been time proven to work.

    Here are two videos you should watch of roads similar in design to what you’re working with here:

    If you’re not familiar with David Hembrow’s blog, A View From the Cycle Path, please read it from the beginning. There’s loads of excellent information in it. He’s a British expat living in the Netherlands who has studied their cycle infrastructure and has really good insight as to what works and what doesn’t work and the reasons why:

    Another good blog to be aware of is Mark Wagenbuur’s Bicycle Dutch Blog – he’s Dutch and has a lot of excellent high-quality videos to go along with his write-ups. You may notice that he co-authored some of Hembrow’s earlier blog entries:

    • rjohnanderson July 8, 2015 / 2:05 am

      Thanks James, I will pass your comment along to the folks in Las Cruces. I had the cyclists in the side drive, which is how the Esplanade is set up in Chico, CA. My experience on the Esplanade is that cars travel at around 15 mph on the side drive. There was a lot of pushback on the shared side drive from the cyclists wanting to go fast and they requested the cycle track next to the travel lanes. I will sketch your proposed section and post it here on the blog and forward it to the City and NM DOT folks. I think the local City Councilman may be able to run it by the local cyclists who asked for the cycle track next to the through lanes. I would like to pass you comments along with your name. What is it?

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