I attended the MVRPC meeting yesterday in which Tetra Tech outlined
its proposals for the two-way street conversions. They proposed three
1. No Build – as in, leave things exactly how they are.
2. Minimum Impact – this changes all one-way streets to two-way but "minimizes" impact on street parking by eliminating "only" 311 of 1180 street parking spaces (or 26%)
3. Maximum Traffic Flow – this changes all one-way streets to two-way and maximizes traffic flow by eliminating 977 of 1180 street parking spaces (or 83%)
The group projected overall increases in the entire downtown system through to the year 2030, and came up with 3 minute, 21.8 minute and 14.1 minute increases respective to the three solutions noted above.
Now for my opinion: For sake of argument, let’s assume that solution #3 is so ridiculously flawed in that it basically wipes out almost all street parking that it would never be considered by the city let alone implemented. The fact that the consultants wasted their time (and our tax money) coming up with that solution makes me question their expertise in downtown planning as well as the city (or MVRPC) representative that commissioned this study. But I digress…
Solution #2 does have some merit, though I do not agree that we should be giving up 26% of our street parking. It appears that Patterson, Jefferson, Ludlow, Wilkinson and Perry Streets would bear the brunt of the parking elimination, with Patterson and Jefferson losing ALL of their street parking spaces. If I were a business on any of these streets, I would be fighting this proposal all the way. However, though I personally have no problems with our one-way street system (having lived in Chicago I am quite used to it), I would like to see traffic slowed down in our downtown – and going to two-way would certainly do that. So yes – I do see some potential with #2 but if I had to give you a yes or no, I’d have to say no because of the loss of parking.
What disappoints me about this study the most is that a terrific opportunity to transform our downtown into a vibrant, pedistrian-friendly and visitor-friendly neighborhood was wasted. Instead of thinking of ways to add parking and make it easier for people to visit downtown and patronize our small businesses, it seems that the consultants only had in mind the occassional downtown visitor who simply wants an easy way to drive through the city. There are plenty of ways to slow down traffic – including the elimination of excess lanes on some of our one-way streets to make room for back-in angled parking (Click Here to see examples), which would also increase parking and make downtown more user-friendly and pedestrian-friendly.
Downtown Dayton has tremendous potential to be a vibrant, interesting, walkable and liveable city. We should be focusing on the advantages our downtown already has versus suburbs, and then build on them. No, I’m not suggesting that this is a "us(city) against them(suburbs)" situation, but we cannot simply implement solutions that make downtown just like the suburbs. The suburbs are traditionally built for the automobile; downtown is traditionally a pedestrian-minded space. So instead of making it easier to drive through downtown, let’s figure out how to entice more and more people to get out of their cars and become pedestrians in our downtown.
Click Here to see the proposed two-way street conversions for Downtown Dayton.