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Westminster of the Future?

A cool online site, streetmix.net, lets you set up your own arrangements for the streets you live on. I realized I've been talking a lot about what I think should happen on Westminster Street for quite a while but haven't put up an actual visual. (By the way, if you haven't signed our petition, please do. You can sign it if you're from Providence or not, but if you're not from Providence, please indicate your relationship to the city. Do you visit often? And if you're a West Side business owner, we especially want your support).

Matt Moritz of the Rhode Island Bike Coalition put up his idea for Westminster Street in the discussion thread about this on Greater City Providence, so I created my own as well.

This would be my ideal setup for Westminster Street:

Note: The travel lanes have been reduced from 11' to 9', to reduce speeding and give a neighborhood feel in accordance with the 25 mph speed limit that already exists. There are bike lanes separated by plant barriers (streetmix seems to think that we can put full blown trees, but I would settle for something less involved in such a small space). The barriers also act as pedestrian islands for people getting off the buses, although there could be some serious discussion about consolidating the Westminster buses to Broadway to get greater frequency on those lines with less route confusion. Just think of how having some extra trees will change the feeling of the street, even for pedestrians and drivers! It'll make sitting out at a table on the sidewalk a lot prettier.

The compromise position on the change would be to have just one bike lane, in one direction (two-way on one side is complicated and can be dangerous with turning cars at intersections). That would look more like this:

Note that this one leaves half of the parking in place. When we did a count of the parking one day, we found only an 11% occupancy on the street, with the majority of the parking lots near to empty, and with lots of side-street parking available. Getting people to bike in greater numbers would make the parking demand lower, not higher, but I can understand why businesses feel nervous about the prospect. 

I don't like having just one lane as much as two, but if it makes people feel more comfortable to know that they'll still have around five hundred on-street parking spots left right on Westminster, that's a good compromise I can live with.

What would your streetmix look like? 


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