Friday, September 25, 2009

Davenport In Motion

I attended the presentation last night at the Figge about Davenport's transportation master plan. There wasn't a ton of specifics because of how early in the plan they are, but basically Davenport In Motion, as its being called, is a plan for the entire city's transportation (car, bus, bike, on foot, or any other method) and downtown's parking needs. The plan is being done by Nelson\Nygaard along with Jeff Speck, a prominent urban planner.

Check out the QCTimes article here, as it covers a lot of what was said at the presentation. Also, the website for Davenport in Motion can be found here, on the City of Davenport website.

Some of the main topics were the lack of connected streets north of Kimberly, whether all of our one-ways need to stay one-ways, whether some of our streets are too wide for the amount of traffic that actually uses them, and what should be done about downtown parking. While the consultants don't believe that all downtown street parking should be free, they feel that only the most central and popular spaces should be metered, with some on the outskirts being free. As has been mentioned in a number of media outlets, the city will be doing a trial run over the next year. I'm not sure exactly when this will start, but all the meters will be bagged, and most of the downtown core will still be limited to 2 hour parking. I'm not sure if the lot off of Locust is included in this, since its kind of an exception up there.

A lot of the talk about one ways focused on Brady and Harrison, and 3rd and 4th. Basically the consultants recommend turning them all back into 2 way streets, as the current philosophy says that they're better for pedestrian transportation, businesses, and ease of use. It was pointed out that some of the dissatisfaction with parking downtown is caused by the fact that "circling a block" to get a parking space can sometimes mean circling 3 or 4 blocks because of the one-ways. I hadn't really thought about it before, but it does take a lot of extra time for example, to go up to 4th and over to Main instead of just circling one block. Supposedly changing 3rd and 4th back to two-way traffic wouldn't be overly expensive, and the early talk seemed to be that Brady and Harrison could be 2-way at least as far north as Locust. All of this is in the pretty early stages, and I don't think any of the one-way changes would be happening in 2009, although I could be wrong. There was a lot of info packed into the hour presentation, but I'll stop there and suggest looking through the materials available on the website for more information. Also, if there are questions I can do my best to answer them, in between dodging insane personal attacks.


At 9/25/2009 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rather leave the streets alone. Too many know that some streets are one ways and it will cause problems when they don't realize that it changed. It is the same reason that I was against making Brady and Harrison one ways to begin with. Are we going to do this for 20 years and convert them back to one ways?

It would be nice to get the bus system like it is set up in Ames IA. They have a really good one and you do not have to go far to catch a bus in that city. I'd consider taking the bus if I had more flex in when I could take the bus. Right now, I could not stay late if I had to take it.


At 9/25/2009 7:40 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Yeah, those bus issues were definitely mentioned. As the Times article said, 15 hours a day is one of the things they're shooting for, along with frequency of every 15 minutes. That way you can just hop on a bus without necessarily scheduling each leg of your trip perfectly for transfers.

As far as the one ways, I personally favor changing 3rd and 4th and leaving Brady and Harrison as one ways, but they really seem gung-ho about changing them. I agree 100% that something needs to change on Brady and especially Harrison south of Locust. Walking to those businesses on that narrow sidewalk with traffic flying by at 40mph isn't a pleasant experience. I liked the previous idea of shrinking them to 3 lanes and adding some parking and bigger sidewalks, but I also don't think a 2 way configuration would be the end of the world.

I think there would be fewer people accidentally turning into oncoming traffic after the switch than we have now accidentally turning the wrong way down Brady or Harrison because they're from out of town. A lot of the talk was about having Harrison be 2 lanes southbound and one lane northbound, with no center turn lane, and Brady having 2 lanes northbound and 1 southbound. I don't think it would be that hard to get used to, but we'll see what happens, and what the council will approve.

At 9/25/2009 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see absolutely no downside for 2 ways returning to downtown. Greater safety, slower traffic, better for retail, more parking, and less confusing to visitors. Add the boulevard to River Drive and get safer connection to the Riverfront to boot.

What part of that sounds bad? To the folks who would complain it will take them an extra 4 minutes to get to work since would no longer be able to blast through downtown at 40+ MPH - too bad, so sad. Downtown has to have this change to continue its progress, and that's way more important that getting to and from work 4 or 5 minutes faster.

As for Brady & Harrison, I like the ideas of switching parts of it too, especially up to Locust. I'm not passionate either way for the rest of the distance of the street. I'll be curious to see what the suggestions are though.

At 9/25/2009 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Traffic patterns are not responsible for people not using downtown.Are the traffic patterns responsible for the hordes of people on Elmore? These planners are book nuts with our money in their pockets.Now parking meters are another matter.

At 9/25/2009 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Traffic patterns have an immense impact on where people in travel, and HOW they travel. People put up with Elmore because they aren't WALKING down the road.

Also, your response implies Downtown isn't doing well. Thousands work and live downtown. It is growing, and is has been for the past decade. To push it to the next level, the streets people are WALKING next to on sidewalks need to be as safe as ones in any neighborhood in town. Downtown is a neighborhood first, and with that in mind, the safety of pedestians and the people shopping there comes above being able to fly through it as fast as you want.

Increasing people's confort while downtown will have a direct and positive impact on the neighborhood. There's no good reason to keep those one ways anymore.

At 9/25/2009 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see a $0.50 parking meter charge is that big of a deal. It is not having a parking space right in front of the store is the big deal.


At 9/25/2009 2:39 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

How often do you get the first spot at WalMart or the mall though? You end up walking the equivalent of a city block just to get to the front door of a suburban business half the time.

As far as no downsides to changing Brady and Harrison to 2 ways, I see a couple small ones. First, perceptions matter. With older generations especially, the perception that downtown is harder or slower to get to may cause some people to think twice about heading that way. I feel its just like how the perception that crossing a bridge makes things farther away causes some people not to visit things in the other state. However, perceptions can be changed as well, and if the drive becomes more pleasant it could balance out. I just know that Davenport and the QC in general ignore perceptions and marketing too much. Another small negative is the cost, which won't be nothing for all the signage and signal changing.

I guess one of the things I have a problem with is that a lot of the people pushing this act like we can never overcome one ways. Downtown Des Moines has a boatload of them and them seem to be doing alright, not to mention a certain little city 2 and a half hours to our east. Maybe it'll make a huge difference, or maybe in a city with tiny average commutes, those extra 4 or 5 minutes will really matter to people. To some extent I defer to the planning experts, but not every community is the same, and we have a lot of change-resistant folks around here.

At 9/25/2009 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Davenport in Motion,New and Now. Promise.

At 9/25/2009 10:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The circus has packed up and left town, sorry. Take Mommie's hand, and go home.

At 9/26/2009 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That certain city 2 1/2 hours east has a lot of one ways, but they also have a lot of sidewalks that are 15+ feet wide, and a great public transportation system.

The real point is to make downtown more pedestrian friendly. I liked the idea of keeping Brady and Harrison one-ways, but making some of the improvements they talked about. I like the idea of making 3rd and 4th two-way again.

At 9/26/2009 8:21 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

7:56, that's my feeling too. I understand that pedestrians have to be comfortable in order to create a really vibrant downtown, but I'm pushing for a little more of a compromise towards cars. This is a city that didn't have a single bike lane as little as 2 years ago, after all. We're making progress.

At 9/28/2009 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is adding more parking spots on-street directly in front of businesses not Pro-Car enough for you? We've been capitulating to the needs of cars for 40 years - putting pedestrians as a slightly higher priority this one time is worth our time and money.

And as i just mentioned, cars will likely still be getting a great deal out of this with more convenient (and maybe even free)parking. The only down side to traffic is it's going to be slower. It SHOULD be slower, just like it already is on 2nd.

Speaking of 2nd St. it functions great as a 2-way, and not surprisingly, it has the most foot traffic during the day because people don't feel like they're going to be nailed by a car like you do walking down 3rd or 4th when "the wave" comes at you after the lights all turn green.

The Brady/Harrison corridor has more complexities which I'm not prepared to either support or argue against, but there is just no way you can convince me we're better off with confusing and dangerous 1-ways downtown for the sake of convenience to drivers trying to blow through the area.


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