The Forest Park Boulevard Road Diet plan, which started life as a grassroots citizen effort that I reported on in April, has become an official study project of the City of Fort Worth.
The city is considering the plan to convert Forest Park between Rosedale and Park Hill from its current configuration – four lanes, two each direction – to a new, slower, safer configuration with one lane each direction and a dedicated center turn lane, with the reclaimed space on the sides being used for dedicated bike lanes. The official design plan looks quite similar to the initial citizen-led proposal, with refinements by city engineers.
Forest Park is well within the traffic load that can handle a road diet of this sort (this design has proven successful for years on nearby Magnolia Avenue, even with that street’s increasing activity), and the new configuration would bring quite a few safety improvements to the street and its surrounding neighborhoods. Besides the obvious benefit of slowing traffic down, the configuration would also improve car safety during turns via the dedicated left-turn lane, improve pedestrian safety via reduced traffic speeds, buffer space between traffic and sidewalks, and reducing the amount of active lanes to cross, and would increase safety for bikes (and make the street a viable link in this area for cyclists) via the dedicated bike lanes.
This would be a big help for Forest Park Boulevard, as the neighborhoods around the street have been dealing with traffic accidents and an unfriendly pedestrian environment for some time. As mentioned in the previous post:
According to data from the Fort Worth Police Department, from 2009 to 2011, Forest Park Boulevard saw 63 minor accidents, 21 major accidents (a major accident is loosely defined as one resulting in hospitalization), and seven hit & runs. In the first six weeks of 2012, the street’s had two major accidents and seven minor ones.
In the city planning & neighborhood design fields, it’s been realized over the last several years that the design of our streets has a much stronger impact on their feel and safety than enforcement via police, speed traps, and the like. By configuring the street in such a way that it can still handle the traffic load, but more safely and with better accommodation for all users, Forest Park can become a safer place for everybody and a more beneficial part of its surrounding neighborhoods. If you want to see this plan happen, I’d encourage you to head over to the city’s web site and voice your support.
As a refresher, here’s a great Streetfilms video about road diets: