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The Streets are Too Damn Wide

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Development The Streets are Too Damn Wide

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  • #86949
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    Anne & I just returned from a weekend in Pittsburgh and one of the things I couldn’t help but notice is how much narrower many of their major Streets are in and around Downtown. I’m sure a lot of that is due to the city being designed pre-automobile and the land-locked nature of the geography of the city.

    Anyway, wanted to point out a few views to compare and contrast. Penn Avenue, one of the main drags through the cultural district Downtown up to the hip Strip District was primarily 1 travel lane in each direction (or 2 in one direction where it was one-way) with on street parking. Somewhat similar to High Street in the Short North, and what I imagine High Street would look like if it had on-street parking into Downtown. The wider roads in Downtown Pittsburgh were 4 travel lanes, and there generally seemed to be less one-way streets than in Downtown Columbus.

    Anyway, just one observation (of many) between the two cities that was made over the weekend, and one I wanted to share as a point of discussion with a few questions:

    1. Should Downtown streets in Columbus be narrowed?

    2. Should Downtown streets in Columbus be converted to two way?

    3. Should Downtown streets in Columbus have on-street metered parking?

    4. If narrowed, what should the extra space be used for? (Green medians, bike lanes, transit lanes, wider sidewalks, etc)?

    To compare… Pittsburgh:

    and Columbus:

    #448089
    Manatee
    Manatee
    Participant

    Yep. It also makes Columbus a lot hotter in the summer, and colder in the winter. Just vast stretches of parched asphalt.

    #448090

    RoundTowner
    Member

    When High Street downtown was rebuilt in the late 80s, one lane was removed and the sidewalks on each side were widened. But, the street is still too wide, COTA should stay off of High and have a loop going around Front and 3rd, then place street parking on High again.

    Columbus streets function well when it comes to getting people out of downtown, most of them should be 2 way and or have lanes removed.

    The streets in Pittsburgh are mostly the size of Gay Street, which is the nicest Street downtown.

    The idea of narrowing Broad Street has been kicked around about as much as putting in a train downtown, I am beginning to think it will never happen.

    #448091

    Rodgers
    Participant

    Columbus streets should definitely be converted to two-way traffic. I thought I had heard rumblings about that being in the works…did I hear incorrectly? (I wish I could just remember where I heard that…)

    As for Columbus street width vs. Pittsburgh street width, I found driving in Pittsburgh to be unpleasant at best and borderline claustrophobic at worst, and finding adequate parking along the south side of the river (where most of the attractions were that I wanted to visit) always seemed problematic. I vaguely recall lots of alleys with not a lot of visual clearance to check for traffic. And getting around at rush hour in Pittsburgh was not for the faint of heart, at least not the few days I was there. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but of course, your mileage may vary.

    #448092

    titleistcm
    Participant

    One way streets when used in tandem are the most efficient way to move automotive traffic, which is a primary neccisity in downtown Columbus today. By changing certain streets to 2 way, it throws off the traffic light pattern that works greatly when all streets in the system are one-way. That said, I disagree about converting streets to two-way downtown. However you can still invest in better parking solutions and other streetscape improvements to really enhance Downtown and make a uniform scene. For example, I work in the Arena District, and all the new 2 way streets and suburban style intersections really make rush hour a terrible mess, whereas downtown along the main 1 way streets, getting onto the freeways is much easier at the same time of day. BUT, the streetscape in the Arena District is nicer, thus attracts people more. Affordable modern residential rental options, combined with affordable homeownership downtown is still my key to revitilization. I firmly believe the demand is there…we are slowly moving in the right direction.

    As I read my post, I don’t want to sound like moving cars is the only answer, but I also support the push for mass transit improvements in Columbus. Like throwing down an awesome light-rail all the way down the middle of high st from downtown to Lewis Center, restricting some lanes to bus only, and using HOV lanes like most other cities.

    #448093

    people211
    Member

    Looking at those Pittsburger pix.. I’m having a little Density Envy…

    #448094

    irishred
    Member

    Well obviously protected bike lanes are a great idea for everyone.

    #448095

    davidd
    Member

    Wanna know why our streets are wider, dear? Lets take a look at the population of each city:

    Columbus: 787,033
    Pittsburgh: 334,704

    I think you see where I’m going with this…

    #448096

    cc
    Member

    davidd wrote >>
    Wanna know why our streets are wider, dear? Lets take a look at the population of each city:
    Columbus: 787,033
    Pittsburgh: 334,704
    I think you see where I’m going with this…

    That means nothing without looking at the area they take up.

    http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/facts/f/how_big.htm

    Pittsburgh is still more densely populated (more people per square mile) than five of the top 10 cities in the country.

    The size of the roads is mainly due to Pittsburgh developing pre-automobile and physical contraints of the triangle. In fact (as a historical note) large sections of houses built along the sides of ravines in Oakland (Panther Hollow) were torn down as fire hazards since they were not accessible by fire trucks.

    A social curiosity is that people turning left are usually given right of way when the signal first turns green. This is to compensate for the narrow streets. It is not ‘a law’, but a custom. It can cause trouble with out of towners.

    #448097

    kelly_S
    Member

    davidd — I don’t get where you are going with that. Columbus covers over 200 square miles. Pittsburgh is just over 50. Accordingly, shouldn’t it follow that downtown Columbus does not require wide streets for purposes of traffic capacity based on population when most of that population is spread out over an area 4x as large as Pittsburgh? Indeed, population/square mile would support narrower streets.

    #448098

    Mercurius
    Participant

    davidd wrote >>
    Wanna know why our streets are wider, dear? Lets take a look at the population of each city:
    Columbus: 787,033
    Pittsburgh: 334,704
    I think you see where I’m going with this…

    It’s probably really only worth looking at MSAs too? In that, Pittsburgh is bigger.

    #448099

    AmyJ
    Participant

    Driving in Pittsburgh ranks as some of my worst driving experiences ever.

    #448100

    Urban Dansigner
    Participant

    The streets are the width they are because of the Surveyor that laid out the streets and the time in which they were done. Pittsburgh settled 1717 – Columbus settled 1790’s.

    #448101

    Mercurius
    Participant

    I’m not sure that the streets are too wide (Look at Washington D.C.) It’s more that the streetscapes are too ugly because there’s not enough density and the scale of the medians and sidewalks are too small comparatively to the width of the streets. That makes it appear empty (and ugly.)

    If were making a wish list, let’s go ahead and demolish a good section of downtown, build this, bury all the freeways, make all roads into parkways with bicycle lanes, build a pneumatic tube subway system and infill all the parking lots with iconic architecture.

    #448102

    bastardsuperstar
    Participant

    AmyJ wrote >>
    Driving in Pittsburgh ranks as some of my worst driving experiences ever.

    thank god somebody said it before me. eff driving in that city, and eff parking there. dealing with on-street parking in pitts is almost as bad as manhattan. one of the hardest places to get around, especially if you’re in a band-van/schoolbus kinda deal . . .

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 128 total)

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