Better Boulder supports the proposed “rightsizing” pilot projects on Iris, Folson, 55th and 63rd street. We believe that these projects can make our roads safer, create a more pleasant environment for people walking and cycling, and thus give more people real choices in how they travel. A sustainable future for Boulder requires a city that is designed for people, not just for cars.
Many other communities have taken 4 lane arterials and retrofitted them into complete streets, and have found that there are multiple benefits. Studies have shown that at the type of traffic volumes found on these streets, road diets don’t increase congestion, and that neighboring businesses see no negative impacts. According to the US Department of Transportation, studies show that road diets reduce traffic crashes by an average of 29 percent.
At the same time, we believe that the city should be very thoughtful about how these projects are implemented. It is important that these be successful, and receive wide community support. We are encouraged by the detailed corridor analysis that the city has performed, which shows that over the vast majority of these corridors rightsizing can be done with little increased vehicle delay. The studies identify two problematic sections – Iris from Broadway to 15th and the section of Folsom from South Street to Arapahoe. We would recommend a careful approach that avoids additional vehicle congestion in these locations in order to maximize the likelihood that the pilot project will be well-received by residents who use all transportation modes.
We also support the pilot approach, allowing modifications to improve performance as we learn how these work in practice on these particular corridors. However, the appearance matters – it is important that these by beautiful, not just functional, so we would encourage, for example, the use of planters rather than plastic bollards.