Subj:    Main Street Diet
Date:    6/27/00 10:38:08 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Lys Burden)

Subj:    Main Street Diet
Date:   6/27/00 8:17:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Dom Nozzi)


Gainesville is proposing to put Main Street through our downtown on a diet by making a 5-lane street a 3-lane street w/ on-street parking. The cross-section will be 11-foot travel lanes, 10 or 11-foot turn lanes, 8-foot parking lane, and 5-foot bike lanes (between the parking and the travel lane).

Does it make sense for us to put in such a bike lane along a street section that we intend to be pleasant for pedestrians? My concern is that w/ the bike lane, the motorist might be given a signal to drive at high speed due to the *perceived* width of the travel lane, thereby making things unpleasant for peds and retailers.

Does the problem of perceived travel lane width go away if we use a color for the bike lane that strongly sets it off from the travel lane? Or is it best to NOT use a bike lane in the heart of what we want to be a pedestrian-vibrant downtown, and instead have bicyclists share the travel lane w/ slower-moving cars downtown?

A related question: Should we insist that FDOT retain the old bricks that are under the asphalt when they do the construction, or have FDOT remove them, as they recommend?


Subj:   Re: Main Street Diet
Date:   6/27/00 9:34:55 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From:   DBurden 

A couple of real quick ideas.   Your Main Street diet will work best if you go back to brick.  Ionia, Michigan, just bricked a historic street using state money, and it is a visual treat.... The original brick lasted 78 years, which more than justifies it being twice as expensive as concrete or asphalt.

For this round of rebricking they hired a South American crew, since few American firms have a clue on building brick streets that are attractive, smooth and last.  (Orlando, by the way is doing a lot of rebricking, so they may know some good Florida contractors.) The Ionia bricked street was done so well that predictions are that it will last more than 100 years. Compare that with an average asphalt life of 20 years. 

Bike lanes can and should be pigmented. If you do brick... use gray paver stones for the bike lanes to set visual tightening of the corridor and lower speeds.... Set parking at 7 feet, bike lanes at 6 feet, and do the center line in gray pavers.

By the  way, I am becoming a real believer in 10 foot lanes for main street environments. The ten foot lanes appear so much tighter visually and lead to safer behavior.   You should have no technical problems doing this treatment assuming that you put in the six foot bike lanes and, let's say, a 2 foot gray center line set of pavers. The conservative engineers should support this, since the described elements still leave the same amount of operating space.

Subj:    RE: Main Street Diet
Date:   6/27/00 11:37:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

Dom, you asked Dan, but please let me jump in. I assume you're not changing the curb-to-curb width of the street, so it's not a question of bike lanes vs speeds vs sidewalk width?

In that case, I recommend the bike lanes, which can help define the travel lanes to the 11-foot width you described. Otherwise you end up with a very wide lane, which is not good for speeds. Helps the pedestrian in a couple of ways - keeps the moving traffic a bit further from the sidewalk, and defines where the travel lanes start when crossing the road (I don't worry to much about pedestrians stepping into the bike lane and getting hit by a cyclists, they'll be looking in the same direction for cars and cyclists, unless you've got a very bad case of wrong-way riding in Gainesville, in which case put lots of directional arrows in the bike lane). 

You wondered about painting the bike lanes a different color -that would really help make the roadway appear narrower. But that can be expensive, an intermediate solution is to use an 8" stripe, rather than a 4" or 6" stripe. Oregon adopted the 8" as a standard, and the travel lanes really do look better defined and narrower.

My opinion...
Michael Ronkin
Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager
Oregon Department of Transportation

Subj:    Re: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/28/00 8:55:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Paul Zykofsky)


Was just in Richmond, VA (where Harrison and I spoke to the US DOT Leadership Conference about Community Participation) and came across a beautifully done cobblestone street in an old historic part of town known as Shockoe Slip which was probably rebuilt in the last 5-10 years...  The flat cobblestones are set in a fan-shaped pattern.  I took some photos which I can e-mail to anyone who is interested.  Was not the most comfortable surface to bike on but I did see a few cyclists on it. 

Paul Zykofsky, AICP
Director, Land Use/Transportation Programs
Local Government Commission
1414 K Street, Suite 250
Sacramento, CA  95814
916-448-8246 fax

Subj:    Re: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/27/00 11:30:17 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Danny Pleasant)

Hi all --

Dan and Michael both make excellent arguments for restoring Gainesville's brick main street. In Orlando, we established a structure and provide funding for brick street restoration projects. Most of our projects have been in neighborhoods but we recently did projects on thoroughfares in commercial areas. (Summerlin Ave, Washington Street.) It's by far the most effective traffic calming measure in our arsenal and it returns the historic character of the areas through which these streets traverse.  You might be interested in noting the Winter Park has been recreating its main street, Park Avenue, over the past two years.  They are paving the entire downtown segment with brick-like pavers using the grey centerline and crossing pavers as Dan suggested. Take a look at their webcam to get a sense of the project:

A couple of thoughts come to mind regarding bicycle accommodation. In tight downtown areas, traffic should be moving slowly - about the speed of most bicycling. Therefore, bicyclist should be able to blend with traffic in those denser areas.  If you have enough space where you have the choice of extra wide travel lanes or narrower (10'-11') travel lanes plus bike lanes, I would take the latter every time.  Our experience suggests that narrower travel lanes with bike lanes does effect a reduction of motor vehicle travel speeds.

We also just completed another project in Orlando that might interest you. We restored the brick surface on Livingston Street that also serves as part of our designated bikeway system.  As part of the project, we invented a new curb and gutter design where the concrete gutter pan extends five feet from the face of the curb and has a very gradual back slope.  That made for smoother bike lanes while restricting automobile traffic to the rougher brick surface.  It also provides that contrast of the light grey bike lanes against the dark red bricks.  It's visually striking and it works for cars, bikes, and neighbors.  By the way, property owners along the street agreed to pay for most of the project throught special assessments on their properties. That's how eager folks are to take control of their streets and create better neighborhoods.

Subj:    Re: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/28/00 7:27:56 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From:   DBurden

Nice details, Danny.  Orlando has come a long way since the dark days of being downgraded to America's least desirable bicycling town. I hold up the natural traffic calming features of your city to the best of the west....real pioneering stuff.

I am also pleased to learn that folks understand the higher construction cost of pavers and are willing to pay their fair share. Anything you have in appreciated property following these treatments would go a long way to convincing others that beautification of roadways is a wise personal property investment.  I know that Laura Firtel says that the bricking of Westmorland increased her property value by $10K, and she was only assessed $2.5K......with lower speed traffic in front of her house to boot.

Subj:    Re: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/28/00 9:41:48 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Mighk Wilson)

My $.02 on TND streets and bike lanes:

Danny Pleasant got me thinking about Park Avenue in Winter Park and Summerlin Avenue in Orlando.  Both brick, both narrow (don't know the exact dimensions) and neither have bike lanes.  There are some significant differences though.  Park Ave. has buildings closer to the street, on-street parking and much more of a sense of "enclosure" (though that will come in time to Summerlin).  Park's bricks are smoother than Summerlin's, too (sorry Danny).

I find Park Ave. to be a better cycling street than Summerlin, except for having to work my way around cars backing into parallel parking (and that's not a comfort issue, but a simple delay).  Motorists are more polite.  And I think Park would still be better than Summerlin if both were asphalt.

My point here -- and I think I've mentioned it to Dan B. before -- is that I wonder about the relative importance of the proportions of the "floor" compared to the proportions of the "whole room."  I think the proportions of the street diminish in importance (but not to insignificance) as the buildings or "walls" move closer together.

Mighk Wilson

Subj:    Re: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/30/00 10:06:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From:   DBurden

Good points, Mighk.  I am convinced that TND advocates need to optimize the design of a street through all elements of its chemistry......and if buildings are set back, the speeds are almost certain to go up....unless street trees form a cool green canopy......Summerlin, to my recall, does not have street trees, and has too many incentives for high speed travel.

Subj:    Re: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/28/00 1:16:40 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Rick Hall)


Good to hear this discussion spreading and becoming more common.

The bike lane question centers on the design & posted speed for the street; If your design/posted speed (they should be exactly the same) is 25 mph, then bicycles can do well traveling with the traffic. Adolescents will bike on the sidewalk. Move your curbs in, create more sidewalk and go with 7 foot parking x2 and 11 foot lanes x3 for a 47 foot section instead of your current 60 feet. We proposed 2 travel lanes, two parking lanes and no bike lanes through Seaside for the 25 mph environment.

At 30 or 35 mph the bike lanes are needed, in spite of the door opening danger. As you well know, design the street to achieve the desired land use pattern.

Good Luck.

Subj:    RE: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/28/00 11:50:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time

Good answer Rick, but I laughed out loud when I read " speed (they should be exactly the same)... " Does anyone do that? Every engineer I speak tells me s/he is obligated to use a design speed 5-10 MPH higher than the posted speed.

PS to Erik, Kent and Terry - many other jurisdictions are grappling with the same issue we are - trying to effectively get the running speeds down so bikes can share the road, freeing up the need for bike lanes, so they can narrow the street. Remarkably similar to the discussions we've been having at ODOT.

Michael Ronkin

Subj:    RE: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/29/00 2:22:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Rick Hall)


The 5-10mph difference in design speed over posted speed, the safety cushion you speak of for highway design, is appropriate in the country. Rural highways need this difference to accommodate the rural high speed ranges. When pedestrian sympathetic designs are implemented in urban settings, 40 mph becomes a very high speed. Use of the cushion in lower speed urban/walkable settings simply yields higher speeds which cancel the intended safety factor. This cushion concept and many other transportation & rules-of-thumb came in from the country and have harmed the urban pedestrian environment. They should be returned to the country. As should the Arterial, Collector, Local functional classification system. Doesn't work in town, never has, never will. Portland helped reinforce these ideas.

Subj:    Re: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/30/00 9:56:45 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From:   DBurden

An analogy is a doctor advising every patient to put on an extra 10 to 15 pounds just to be sure that they do not starve before the next visit. How can the engineering community be so, so behind times of what safety research shows about induced speed for so, so long.

In a message dated 6/28/00 10:00:07 AM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Very good points. I'm leaning toward supporting the lanes. Here are my comments to Michael Ronkin yesterday:

I guess my take is that in an ideal world, we could compel FDOT to give us streets downtown that are so  narrow that cars are forced to cautiously crawl along and bicycles feel quite safe sharing the lane. But since FDOT is not yet on board w/ designing livable downtown streets, I cannot assume ideal design will be delivered to our Main Street. So it appears that I need to settle for second best: bike lanes and somewhat faster car travel downtown, which is better than faster car travel w/o bike lanes.

Even though I do about 98 percent of my in-town travel by bicycle, and did  my masters thesis on bicycle travel in 1986 (I'm a John Forester disciple),  I tend to look upon the pedestrian as our design imperative downtown. Doing that right, in my opinion, uses the lynchpin that inevitably gives us a high quality of life in an enormous number of ways, more so than making any other form of travel the imperative (at least in our downtown).

Another thing: Gainesville has a long history of sub-optimizing bicycle travel, and almost no history of ped advocacy. As a result, we often fight a losing battle for on-street parking on major downtown streets because the bike advocates lobby to retain the bike lane. And in my opinion, bicyclists are better off in the long run if they don't sub-optimize -- if they let us create a wonderful ped environment. By doing so, cars will behave themselves better, bicycling will be along more interesting and aesthetically pleasing streets, and we'll be more likely to retain or create "community-serving" facilities in our downtown, which reduces bicycling distances.


Subj:    Re: Main Street Diet
Date:    6/28/00 8:11:29 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (David Engwicht)

Dear All,

Your debate about lane widths and bike lanes to control speed may soon be redundant. In Boise recently I helped develop a program which will dramatically drop speeds in ALL streets virtually overnight (well give it 3 - 6 months). Called the "Neighborhood Pace Car Program" it is a form of "mobile traffic calming" that TOTALLY eliminates the need for ANY physical devices and costs the city nothing to implement (other than if they choose to resource what is a citizen initiative). The cities that have been privileged to see the draft of this program are wildly enthusiastic. It will save millions in traffic calming and road programs and there is not a single impediment. Where I had trouble selling Street Reclaiming as an alternative to traffic calming (liability issues etc.) I have had no trouble selling the Pace Car. In the two days after inventing the scheme in Boise we had 200 people signed up ready to go.

The scheme is super simple but based on profound principles. People sign a pledge to drive within the speed limit and be courteous to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. They get an official Pace Car sticker for their car and agree to a number of other things such as doing something to their car to make other people smile. They feel empowered because they are calming the traffic on their street... and everyone else's street.

I am currently developing a manual on "Becoming a Pace Car City" (please do not implement the scheme without getting all the details because it is the details that make it work). I will also be returning to North America in October this year to launch the program in a number of cities and run some more two day workshops in other cities. If you are interested in launching the program in your city or finding out more, let me know.

Warm regards from Australia
David Engwicht
7 Fletcher Parade Bardon Q 4065 Australia
Ph 61 7 3366 7746

Subj:    RE: Main Street Diet; inflated claims and missing the point
Date:    6/29/00 12:04:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (R. John Anderson)

Mr. Engwright's exercise in feel-good boosterism will no doubt reform brutal arterial roads and 40' residential streets into wonderful places for children and the elderly.  It is always a pleasure to learn of new initiatives so well grounded in common sense.  Especially when offered with such sublime humility.

John Anderson
Anderson Lamb and Associates
Planning and Design
426 Broadway Suite 205
Chico, CA  95928
530/ 894-0697
Recent Charrette Website:

Subj:    RE: Main Street Diet; inflated claims and missing the point
Date:    6/29/00 8:54:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (David Engwicht)

Dear John Anderson,

Which of my claims is inflated?  And what point have I missed? 

You ask whether the scheme will "reform brutal arterial roads and 40' residential streets into wonderful places for children and the elderly" Inthe early stages of the scheme it will at least make it safer for them to walk and cycle in these streets (because speeds are down and some drivers are stopping to let them cross). In the later stages I expect that the speeds on these streets will go down even further (an unofficial "Pace Car Speed Limit" set by consensus)and that they may indeed become wonderful places for children and the elderly.

John, I apologize if I sounded conceited. But for the past five years I havebeen hunting for a solution which residents can implement themselves and does not require government intervention or the services of professional planners. (I trust it is not this latter point that upset you.) If you had been in Boise and watched this scheme unfold you may have been surprised that I was so restrained in my enthusiasm!! Or if you had seen the city officials in Salt Lake City when I showed them the scheme...

Thank you for your services as a cynic and critic. They goad those of us who believe the future is only limited by our imagination into turning our dreams into reality. However, I think you would have more fun if you changed role!

David Engwicht

Subj:    RE: Main Street Diet; inflated claims and missing the point
Date:    6/30/00 11:56:40 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (R. John Anderson)

Inflated claim?  That debates over bike lanes and roadway width would be made redundant through new enthusiasm for civic behavior and common decency.

Missed point?  The physical design of the roadway _does_ dictate the speed of vehicles and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

These pesky details aside, I wish you nothing but success.  I am sorry if I sound cynical.  If you could only have been here in my town when a woman crossed the street in front of a courteous yielding motorist was struck by a less courteous car in the next lane, you may have been surprised that I was so restrained in my criticism.

It is unfortunate that Robert Preston is no longer with us.  He would have been the obvious casting choice for the lead role in Pace Car - The Musical.