A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Narrowing a traffic artery: Brilliant!

Written October 7th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

The new Lyon Street Narrows during the dedication of Albany;s new Fire Station 11 on Friday.

I’d like to know what Albany’s streetscape designers were thinking when they decided to put chokepoints on the the main downtown thoroughfare, already hard-pressed to handle traffic during busy parts of the day.

In front of the new downtown fire station, Lyon Street now has much wider sidewalks on both sides of the street. There is hardly any foot traffic there, so it’s hard to see what all that concrete is supposed to accomplish.

Chances are the idea was to “calm” traffic — meaning to slow it down — by narrowing the street and eliminating the extra space between traffic lanes and sidewalks. The speed limit is 25 miles an hour, though a year or two ago, ODOT wanted the city to lower it to 20 mph, which is supposed to be the standard in downtown commercial areas. It ignores the fact that because of faulty planning 50 years ago, increasing volumes of motor traffic are being forced to cut downtown Albany in half, and slowing traffic even more will just make the congestion worse.

A few weeks ago I complained that adding sidewalk bulbouts on Lyon caused the disappearance of what little space there had been for bicycle traffic. To which the response was that people on bikes should take the traffic lane. Now that the other side of the street has been partially blocked with a bulbout too, we’ll see what the reaction is when the few commuters on bikes going 10-15 miles an hour occupy the right-hand lane from Eighth Avenue all the way to the bridge.

Perhaps the narrowing of a main highway with lots of traffic is supposed to anticipate a time when motor vehicles have become obsolete and everybody gets around by other means. If that’s the thought behind this, good luck. (hh)


13 responses to “Narrowing a traffic artery: Brilliant!”

  1. Cathy Baker says:

    It must have been the same lunatic that thinks it is great to back in at the post office!

  2. Terry Gleason says:

    The lanes, before this new change and bulbouts, was narrow enough. Trucks and school buses with bikes thrown in will just add to the congestion. One of the thoughts on the bulbouts was less distance for pedestrians to walk when they cross the streets. There again when trucks and busses need to make right hand turns those same pedestrians now have to watch out that the big rigs don’t hit them.

  3. Terry says:

    Same people who decided to build an unnecessary carousel, back in parking and traffic circles even though the majority hate each one. This city cares nothing of its citizens opinions.

  4. hj.anony1 says:

    Here with a comment from the bright side.

    Those bulbouts are prime real estate for parade days. Think about it.
    Three rows deep of lawn chairs. All in front of the beautiful, new Station 11.

    Now back in parking is pretty dumb. Sigh. maga Maga MAGA!!!

  5. Brian Holman says:

    I’m really sorry that my 93 yr old father has passed away this year, or else I would talk him into running for mayor again to provide some much needed common sense!!

  6. Tony White says:

    You just don’t understand, Hasso. This is the GOVERNMENT. They know what’s good for us because they are WISER.

  7. James Engel says:

    Great. North Korea has a loony missile boy & we have a city council. Might we be between a rock & a hard spot??!!…JE

  8. Gittin A. Chuckle says:

    I know traffic can get a little slow downtown during “rush” hours but can’t people just plan a little more time for themselves? I think it a little funny that people are quick to call names and talk about the stupid ideas (narrowing of the streets, bulb-out corners and back-in parking) but no one has any suggestions on how to change traffic and parking problems downtown. And I’m talking about actual suggestions that aren’t blocked by ordinances, laws, etc. people forget that sometimes the ones charged with coming up with solutions also have several restrictions that go along with it.

  9. John Hartman says:

    The simplest, and perhaps the wisest solution, would be to ban all bicycle traffic in the downtown core. Bikes are a hazard. The fewer on the road, the better.

  10. Robert Ramsey says:

    I’m guessing it’s the same engineers that re-designed Fred Meyers parking lot. That lot is great if you have either a Handicap permit or a smart car!

  11. HowlingCicada says:

    “”” … adding sidewalk bulbouts on Lyon caused the disappearance of what little space there had been for bicycle traffic. To which the response was that people on bikes should take the traffic lane. “””

    This is an example of The Big Controversy in bicycling for the past 40 years,
    “vehicular cycling.” Search that (with or without the quotes) and you’ll get an eyeful. Look at Wikipedia’s article for its usual even-handedness, as well as mind-numbing detail. Look at the newspaper and blog articles for quick, opinionated summaries. A good one is http://shifter.info/vehicular-cycling-is-dead-just-dont-bury-the-body-yet/

    It’s actually a very complicated debate, which I didn’t realize until Hasso’s post prompted me to read more. Too complicated for me to say who’s right without adding pages of commentary (both sides are right). The Lyon Street thing is probably a bad idea. I just avoid urban streets as much as I can and head for the paths and the hills.

  12. Richard Vannice says:

    You think that is bad. Have you checked out the new sidewalks downtown? They are not level from building to curb! There are places where the about the outer 1/2 are sloped downward from the side toward the building out to the curb. Other places there is a four sided slope near the curb that terminates in, what I assume, is a drain for storm water,
    It will be interesting to see just how long it is before a senior citizen, who is accustomed to a level side walk from building to curb, takes a tumble and sues the City.
    Cute is not necessarily safe.
    How much extra did those drains in the sidewalk cost in lieu of the “old ” curb side gutter in the street.


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