Turning Chaos into Chaos: Analysis of a Multimodal Street Redesign
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Observation of the retrofitting of a street segment in Eugene, Oregon represents a natural experimental moment to observe how rebalancing a roadway to better accommodate non-auto users without impeding existing automobile access in a chaotic, high volume, multimodal area performs. Redesign of the roadway involved transforming transportation facilities that provided one-way automobile traffic, two-way bicycle traffic, and on-street parking. The design elements renovated a chaotic environment wherein separation of space for different modes was paramount to a chaotic environment wherein integrated traffic and removed of physical barriers created a more fluid space. Using video footage to record activity across the right of way, this study examines how infrastructure changes affected the safety and functionality of users, as measured by changes in traffic volumes and the occurrence of traffic conflicts before and after the redesign was implemented. A review of literature concerning transportation facilities relevant to this analysis provides context for reviewing the redesign. This chaotic street became no less safe after redesign even though non-auto traffic volumes and free-form use of the space significantly increased. Bicycle, skateboard and pedestrian crossing volumes increased and vehicular traffic volumes showed little change after redesign. The integration of bicycle and vehicular traffic and removal of physical barriers did not affect safety, as no collisions occurred and the amount of serious conflicts remained the same, and the redesign provided new ways for convenient navigation around blockages. Examination of the particular elements of this redesign provides insight into ways other multimodal traffic streams can be improved.