06 December 2006

[pdx] Contemplating The Couplet

694 I read the balloon being floated about the westside Burnside-Couch couplet with a bit of personal bemusement.

When I was in high school, a spokesman from ODOT came to class–I think it was driver's ed–to talk about traffic laws and why streets were made the way they were, and up until then I didn't really 'get' one-way streets. I was stuck on the observation that not being able to go back down the street you just came up seems limiting.

The ODOT speaker put it very well–the one way street carries more traffic in one direction than a two-way street does. It was so obvious, I was missing it.

So, if we divide Burnside into a couplet running in twain with Couch, that should relieve crowding on Burnside, right?

I don't know. Each side of Burnside carries three lanes in each direction. Couch isn't that wide; I don't think that Couch could practically carry three lanes of traffic. So you haven't increased traffic carrying capacity at all; you've just moved it off to another street.

And is it just me, or is the thought of having to bust an S-curve up one block of NW 2nd Avenue and down one block of NW 19th Avenue seem just a little iffy?

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Anonymous said...

Considering you use the word "design" on your page, then you should have some idea about urban design. Adding road capacity in cities is NOT a good thing for cities. The coplet is a compromise, it uses less space more efficently for cars, but produces a much better URBAN enviroment for everyone else. If the city had true balls it would just cut burnside to two lanes with a center turn lane, increase the sidewalk, plant a bunch of trees and watch the retail enviornment thrive. Hopefully this compromise will help Burnside without sacrificing Couch.

Samuel John Klein said...

Well, there's one sort of design and another sort of design. The sort of design I go after isn't the sort of design I was commenting on here.

I don't necessarily disagree with you; as a matter of fact I take your point (despite the slightly rude runup to it). I don't think that the idea of a couplet will necessarily be the solution to the problems there; any benefit to the urban landscape will be balanced out, in my inexpert opinion, by the increased traffic on Couch and the introduction of tight hazardous turns at 2nd and 19th Avenues.

Your idea about reducing the car space on Burnside and increasing people space is something that I sincerely think is good. Of course I also saw the logic when Callenbach wrote (in Ecotopia Emerging, I think it was) of a Portland in which all private vehicle traffic was banned from the central city.