Thursday, September 14, 2006

QCI Around Town

I had some errands to run today, and snapped a few shots while I was out.The Davenport Main library was closed today, by the looks of it for filming. I'm all for this Avati movie (The Hideout) showcasing Davenport, but wouldn't it have been possible to film the scenes in the PUBLIC library on a day when its normally closed? Like yesterday... Oh well, I guess I didn't need a book.
Anyone that says we don't need to widen Kimberly Road in the next few years, and some people have, need only to look at this 4:30 snapshot of cars backed up from Elmore. I'm not usually out in that area during rush hour, but it seems worse than I remember.


Anonymous said...

Thursday closing would have made sense, but I guess the library is having the to foot the bill for staffing not the movie company.

Anonymous said...

Hello QuadCities,

Widening roads has been the m.o. of transportation engineers for quite some time, and we are finding out it isn't very effective. Part of the reason has to due with what I call "Threshold of Tolerance". A motorist may avoid driving along Kimberly, for example, at 4:30 by simply finding an alternate route (Locust or 53rd), or by adjusting his or her commute time. Widening a road helps congestion immediately. But over time, those that once avoided Kimberly begin taking it again. What is ultimately achieved is wider roads, with more lanes, but now with more cars. Congestion resurfaces. To a certain extent, traffic is self-regulating, meaning those with a lower "threshold for tolerance" will opt out early on. Many will stick it out longer until it gets unbearable for them, then they opt out.

Our problem has to do more with choices in mobility (and to a great extent our land use patterns). A good tranpsortation network will offer choices for those who wish to 'opt out' of the vehicular traffic jam. This means providing alternate vehicular routes (eliminating culs-de-sac and providing a network of more through streets...46th is an interesting example), extensive bus service, bike trails, and pedestrian routes. Obviously, Davenport is severely deficient in providing these alternatives.

Land use patterns also contribute to traffic madness. Many people like to run errands after they get off work. Simple errands such as returning a video, going to the ATM, picking up some food for dinner that night, can all be done on foot in well laid out cities. Walking in these cities is comfortable and safe, even during climate extremes. But a land use pattern that makes us get in our car and drive to each of these places fuels the vehicular congestion.

Another ethical dilemma is designing a space for the 'worst case scenario'. Kimberly is a very efficient artery throughout the weekend, and during anytime BUT the evening rush hour. It is like designing a parking lot for the day after Thanksgiving (and the day after Christmas). Do we provide such an expanse of ashpalt to accommodate such a narrow time of use? More asphalt erodes any potential of pedestrian friendliness, serves as barriers to neighborhood connectivity, and exacerbates our storm-water run problems.

The problem is evident, both in your photo and in our own experiences. The solution isn't as clear. So we need to ask ourselves, should we focus on widening a clogged road for a short-term, immediate gratification, or should we take a longer look at our transporation alternatives and our land use patterns that drive this congestion?

I invite you and anyone who wishes to learn more about what other communities are doing to mitigate their traffic problems to stop by the Design Center. During one of our "Friday Lunch Bag Presentations", we hope to address such a topic (and one-way vs. two-way streets).

Darrin Nordahl - City Designer

Anonymous said...

No city policy on responding to blogs on company time. Move your desk to library so it can be open longer.

QuadCityImages said...

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one Darrin.

I agree with nearly all of what you said, especially about well-designed neighborhoods and cities being walkable. However, everything on one side if the road that needs widening is terribly designed and unwalkable. Redevelop the entire north side of town to make sense and we'll see if Kimberly still needs widening.

I also believe that there are times when widening a street really is the answer. Locust takes forever to get across, 46th is stuck trying to be a residential street, 53rd is as bad or worse than Kimberly, etc. Should people in the center of Davenport just be stuck having a half hour drive to get to an interstate? Or should we have some ways to get across town in a reasonable time?

WindingHills said...

Extend 46th from Brady to Utica Ridge.

Expand 61 to major highway status.

Expand River drive to major highway status!