Some of you may have noticed there’s been a lot of roadwork going on Parkview Avenue, just south of the Redding Civic Center. The City of Redding has resurfaced the street with a nice, fresh overlay and taken the opportunity to put Parkview Avenue on what’s commonly known as a “road diet.”
The term road diet can be misleading, conjuring images of sacrifice, frustration, and scarcity. We prefer the term “rightsizing.” The goal is reallocate resources in a more useful way that reflects the current needs of the community and to make streets more livable for everyone.
Rightsizing is typically applied to streets with excess capacity, most commonly two-way streets with two lanes in each direction. Rightsizing usually reconfigures the street to one lane in either direction, and the freed-up space is then used to improve the street’s facilities.
Rightsizing Changes To Parkview Avenue
In Parkview Avenue’s case, a well-marked bike lane has been added in either direction along with a center turn lane. Parkview Avenue has actually gained a lane—going from four lanes to five—one in each direction for motorists, one in each direction for cyclists, and a center turn lane for safer turns!
The city has also added bulb-outs at several intersections. Bulb-outs are features where the sidewalk is extended into the street at corners, making a bulblike shape. Bulb-outs make streets much more pedestrian friendly because they shorten the distance to cross from sidewalk to sidewalk—which is great for families with small children, the elderly, and the differently abled. Bulb-outs also encourage cars to slow down in order to safely navigate the turn onto the cross street.
Benefits of a Rightsizing a Street
- Decreases vehicle travel lanes for pedestrians to cross, therefore reducing the multiple-threat crash (when one vehicle stops for a pedestrian in a travel lane on a multi?lane road, but the motorist in the next lane does not, resulting in a crash) for pedestrians.
- Improves safety for bicyclists when bike lanes are added (such lanes also create a buffer space between pedestrians and vehicles).
- Provides the opportunity for on-street parking (also a buffer between pedestrians and vehicles).
- Reduces rear-end and side-swipe crashes.
- Improves speed limit compliance and decreases crash severity when crashes do occur.
- When modified from four travel lanes to two travel lanes with a two-way left-turn lane, roadways have experienced a 29 percent reduction in all roadway crashes.
Numerous rigorous studies show that rightsizing significantly decreases the number of accidents on a street and does not affect the volume of traffic a street can handle. Rightsized streets have been successfully implemented in numerous cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Palo Alto.
Why Parkview Has Been Rightsized
Rightsizing is endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration as a proven safety countermeasure that benefits motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
A 2007 City of Redding speed study (the most current posted to the City of Redding website) indicates Parkview Avenue carries an average daily traffic of 4,600 vehicles. The FHA notes that “it has been shown that roads with 15,000 ADT or less had very good results in the areas of safety, operations, and livability [when rightsizing has been applied.]”
Furthermore, The 2000-2020 City of Redding General Plan designated Parkview as a focus area and called for the city to “establish public open-space and pedestrian/bicycle links between the river and parks, activity centers, schools, and other major open-space areas such as stream corridors” and to “provide for a pattern of development that encourages walking, bicycling, and transit use.” Parkview Avenue was also named as proposed Class II bikeway facility in the transportation element of the general plan.
The residents of Parkview are thrilled with the rightsizing. In a recent email to our organization, Heather Phillips, president of Parkview Neighborhood
Association, writes, “I am so thrilled with the Parkview Avenue project currently underway… and I want to assure everyone that it is noticed and LOVED and welcomed.”
A Minor Quibble
There are still some areas for improvement and issues brought up by local residents that have not yet been addressed. For example, there is a section of sidewalk that was not completed and crucial improvements are still needed to help people walk and bicycle safely cross the A.C.I.D. canal. We encourage the city to address these as soon as is possible so that Parkview Avenue can truly be considered a complete street.
That said, the improvements that have been made terrific. It’s great to see the City of Redding focus on Redding’s core and impressive to see how far Parkview Avenue has come in the past decade!
Michael Kuker of Shasta Living Streets contributes policy analysis and communications consulting to help create more livable communities in our region.
About Shasta Living Streets: Shasta Living Streets inspires community members and leaders in order to create more livable communities within our region for an economically viable and vital place to live, work and play. Living Streets allow people ages 8-80 to lead an active lifestyle and bicycle and walk for everyday transportation, health, and joy.