Monday, September 29, 2014

Kansas City Can Do It Better

(This post started as a fork from the previous post, The Streetcar Fiasco.)

Let us recall, for reference,  Width, and the Perception of Width and Multiway Boulevards, Transit Avenues.

Kansas City Streetcar render
Kansas City's Main Street is only 80 feet wide -- 10 feet narrower than H Street -- but has nothing like the latter's congestion. Yet there are two southbound lanes and one northbound lane, and during "peak" periods the parking lanes turn into bus lanes. The streetcar is a mere drag-and-drop effort into the existing system.
The narrowest a street can be and still have full light rail is a mere 70 feet. At this width, several compromises have to be made, sure -- in particular, on blocks hosting stops, parking lanes need to be removed -- but they are as nothing compared to the scale of the compromises that need to be made on
60-foot streets. And remember, Kansas City's Main Street is a -- measured -- 80 feet wide.
Sample (pre-Streetmix) sections
In fact, we can have our cake here and eat it too. The nature of Kansas City's layout allows us to route core bike infrastructure on Broadway Boulevard and Grand Boulevard, which gives Main Street plenty of room to handle all of light rail's needs. Like so (with a parking space where the stop isn't).
A second option would be to kill parking spaces on one side of the street. It may be preferable to construct a street layout like this between stops. (Note that, in this layout, the parking space may also be claimed as a parklet where sufficient pedestrian energy to do so exists.)
In both, however, it becomes evident there is plenty of space for proper light rail, instead of copying a failed experiment from elsewhere in the country. More creative thinking's all that's needed.

Well, that, and a willingness to give up traffic lanes.

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