W. 11th and W. 13 Street Safety

Should we change W. 11th and W. 13th  from One-Way to Two-Way Street?

Read the information below and take the Survey (closes September 19)

The Eugene Transportation System Plan 2035 (TSP) identifies projects and goals that help meet citywide objectives, two of which are decreasing the burning of fossil fuels and decreasing traffic-related injuries and deaths. The TSP also identifies changing one-way streets to bi-directional streets to reduce out-of-direction travel and making changes to lower traffic speeds to reduce injury severity. Eugene’s Vision Zero, the goal to reduce life-changing injuries and deaths in our transportation systems, identifies a High Crash Network – the 9% of streets that account for 70% fatal and life-changing injury crashes. It is no surprise that the entire length of W. 11th and W. 13th in the JWN are part of this High Crash Network. Reverting these streets to two-way travel will reduce speeds and carbon emissions and increase safety, especially for people looking to cross these streets.

The JWN is looking for neighbor feedback on this idea and people who are willing to help with outreach efforts. Contact us at jwneugene@gmail.com.

The intersection of safety and livability: Reenvisioning 11th and 13th Avenues

Imagine a street with people strolling along sidewalks accessing local restaurants and businesses, and families riding bicycles in wide bike lanes enjoying views of historic homes and gardens. In the center of the street, there are motorists traveling in two directions, each with a dedicated lane. Everyone is getting where they need to go, businesses are thriving, and residents are enjoying sitting on their front porches. A harmonious urban environment.

Now take that image and overlay it onto 11th and 13th Avenues. Converting these [once more major] thoroughfares into two-way streets means they can continue to serve their current purpose of efficiently moving local vehicular traffic, while becoming havens for pedestrians and bicyclists, and providing a more pleasing environment for adjacent residents. Converting these streets into friendlier roadways also means no longer bisecting the Jefferson Westside and adjacent neighborhoods, and instead, embracing modern travel trends and supporting our neighbors and local businesses.

Why do we have one-way streets in America?

In the mid 20th century, U.S. cities began a period of prioritizing motor vehicles while all but entirely dismissing the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. One way of doing this was to convert two-way streets to one-way higher volume thoroughfares, which often impacted safety for all road users and sacrificed livability along these roads, which also decreased property values.

There’s no going back… or is there?

This is not a new concept. Cities across America have reported great success with converting one-way streets back to two-way. This article in CNU’s journal, Public Square has several examples of success stories in other cities, including those comparable to Eugene. In the past two decades, there has been a steadily growing movement to reevaluate roadways to better serve all who use them, including those who have businesses or homes along them. This movement has led many municipalities to adopt context-specific road construction policies, including Eugene’s own Complete Streets guide.

Making our roads safer

Wider roads with unimpeded traffic leads to faster speeds, no matter what speed is posted.

One-way roadways with wide lanes, like 11th and 13th Avenues, encourage motorists to drive fast and means, if there is a crash, it is more likely to cause severe injury or death. This Streetsblog article highlights crash data and argues that lowering traffic speeds saves lives.

The Vision Zero Network, an international movement pushing for infrastructure and other changes in pursuit of no more traffic-related fatalities, includes one-way roads on its lists of hazards. AARP, an avid proponent for safer roadways for everyone, especially aging populations, says this in their article on Vision Zero: “Two-way streets encourage safer, slower driving, and less noise for local residents.” Converting one-way streets to flow both ways also aligns with the City of Eugene’s Vision Zero Plan.

Another aspect of improved safety is a little less concrete, pun intended. There is evidence to suggest that converting two-way streets also decreases crime. The UNC School of Government reported that “Louisville, Kentucky saw a 23% decline in crime and a 42% reduction in robberies on streets converted from one-way to two-way patterns, perhaps a result of greater attention to the street by a new population of cyclists and pedestrians, as well as by drivers now moving at a slower speed.” Other cities have reported similar findings.

Supporting local business
Fast driving motorists often pass local businesses too quickly to notice them. People walking and biking often avoid busy roads and the businesses along them because they feel unsafe and traffic noise and vehicles whizzing by makes the environment uninviting. It has been demonstrated in study after study that businesses thrive when roads are converted back to two ways and pedestrians and bicyclists are given consideration in road design. This article from The Urbanist highlights Seattle’s approach to converting streets in support of its local businesses.

Two-way traffic means safety, often without sacrificing travel times

Traffic studies across the country have evaluated travel times before and after a roadway is converted from one-way to two-way traffic. Over and over, it has been demonstrated the reduction in travel time is nominal. Traffic signals and other measures are timed to move traffic through at the posted speed and, when motorists follow that speed, the signals facilitate smooth travel while also reducing the chance for a fatal crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist.

According to an article in Bloomberg’s CityLab, “Flow is high on one-way streets because there’s little reason for cars to slow down. But flow doesn’t take into account the fact that traveling through one-way street systems often means taking a circuitous route, which adds distance to every trip.”

11th and 13th Avenues also have a “leg up” that many other successfully converted roads didn’t have: U.S. Highway 99 East and 18th Avenue run parallel nearby and are better designed to carry heavier traffic loads.

How hard is this to accomplish?

There are many tools in the City of Eugene’s Transportation Department toolkit to accomplish this task. Even simple inexpensive changes, like restriping roadways to make lanes narrower, converting the flow of traffic to go both ways, and adding or increasing the size of bike lanes can have a significant positive effect. There are other measures that cities making this type of change also often consider, like adding crosswalks, segregating bike lanes from vehicular traffic, and filling in sidewalk gaps.

What do you envision for the future of 11th and 13th Avenues? Changes like these are often prompted by community organizations and local residents––in this case, that’s you.

Now take the Survey (closes September 19)