A Closer Look at Multiway Boulevards for Colorado Springs

This is a generic multi-way boulevard illustrating the relationship between the faster moving traffic (center 4 lanes) and the local streets. Illustration by OlsonPlanning.com
As you may have previously read in my other blog post Academy Boulevard: Imagine the Possibilities or in a previous Dream City Illustration, I have been advocating for Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs to consider a multi-way boulevard as an alternative.  I illustrated a typical segment of a typical multi-way boulevard above to provide a better understanding of what a multi-way boulevard is.  There are examples in The United States and Canada, including Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, NY.  Additional information is available in what I regard as one of the greatest books in transportation planning, The Boulevard Book: History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards by Allan Jacobs, Elizabeth Macdonald and Yodan Rofe.

 

Multi -way boulevards accomplish the fundamental goals of vehicular movement, yet they also allow for the basics in creating a pedestrian friendly environment (on-street parking, slower traffic, opportunities for transit, multi-modal applications and the enabling of buildings closer or at the right-of-way line).  Vehicular circulation is still accommodated for faster speeds in the central four lanes (two lanes each way), while a context-sensitive slower speed street is provided at the outside of the right-of-way.  This slower speed street is suitable for on-street parking, bicycle traffic and transit.  The slower speeds and on-street parking provide a necessary buffer yet the lively street necessary for desirable, usable sidewalks.  The desire to utilize the sidewalks works hand in hand with buildings with proper fenestration, entrance frequency and human scale. 

I feel that a multi-way boulevard approach accommodated with a good urban form (via form-based code) for our country’s dying strip-mall corridors (vast majority of City arterial roads constructed post WWII) would create a great potential for resilience of urban fabric for many years to come.  We need to plan our cities’ infrastructure and buildings for more than the 30-year increment they are currently planned.  This practice is not sustainable regardless of amount of recycled materials, etc. that go into it. 

For more literature about multi-way boulevards, see A Paean to a Road or The Boulevard Book 

Other Related Posts from www.olsonplanning.com: AIA Colorado South Livable Communities Workshop/Charrette;

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4 Comments

  1. I’m not sure you’d want to design these from scratch – the right of way is huge and creates problems for pedestrians wishing to cross the street. However, I agree that they could work well in retrofitting the thousands of strip malls North America has allowed to develop along arterial streets.

    1. I agree Tim, a narrower right-of-way, smaller street cross-section and a higher level of connectivity is always superior to what is created with these widths. A multi-way boulevard designed as a retrofit is the best application, however I feel it could work well (from scratch) if designed in lieu of an urban interstate highway or major expressway with a highly connected grid of streets it can be very valuable. Thank you for your comment Tim!

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