Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

8 Achievable Steps to Improve Urbanism

Streets.mn, a blog based out of Minnesota offers eight ways to improve urbanism, some of which may seem obvious, others not so much. My favorite suggestions:

Making accessory dwellings legal: They’ve been playing with the idea in Minneapolis, and Austin has been savvy to it. What accessory dwellings (or granny flats) offer is quick and achievable density in-fill on single-family lots.

Better transit, not more transit: Dallas boasts more miles of light rail than any other city in the world, which is one of those claims that sounds good on paper, but is really embarrassing. The rail is so long because it is trying to wrestle with so much sprawl while not actually providing the most efficient or usable service. Streets.mn argues more attention should be paid to improving the efficiency and usability of less sexy, but potentially more effective modes of transit, like the modest, old bus. Hmm, sounds familiar.

Eliminate one way streets: Come on, Dallas. It is time to kill ALL of downtown’s one way streets. Today. Fine, tomorrow. But still, it’s 20 years too late. They make no sense at all.

  • vseslav botkin

    Two-way streets as a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly option than one-ways is news to me. In Chicago, where you have a tight grid one-way streets running E-W through downtown, it makes pedestrian crossing incredibly easy. It also allows for wide bike lanes and (as the link notes) easy left turns for vehicles. The speed issue isn’t a problem because 1. the distances being covered for E-W drivers are typically short (downtown is narrow), and 2. there are traffic lights at almost every intersection. Add to that bus and taxi traffic merging in and out of the parking lane, and it’s rare to see anyone doing over 25 or 30, unless they’re riding a fixie.

  • Patrick Kennedy

    The key point is “tight grid” of streets. Same thing with Portland and much of Philadelphia. One-ways should only be solution of last resort when needing to create more space for pedestrians, bikes, etc. Elm and Commerce through downtown are five lanes in many places and carry the same amount of traffic as Main Street. Less when you factor in pedestrians. The speeds also typically tip over 35 mph. They are designed to be escape routes, not city streets that maximize what cities and their public realm are meant to do, facilitating social and economic exchange.

  • TheBlaydes

    I agree with the public transit point. DART’s been expanding their transit (rail) for almost twenty years to ensure that it reaches all the suburbs that have been paying in. Now that it’s out there, DART needs to be intensifying their services and not trying to get more suburbs like McKinney to join.

    Also, no mention of their point about beer and wine sales; or the percentage of beer and wine sales. I would expect that with the amount of time y’all put into trying to find the city’s best Moscow Mule, you would want to champion changing the liquor laws so places like Goodfriend don’t have to tight rope walk around senseless regulations.

  • Bushwood Smithie

    “Elm and Commerce through downtown are five lanes in many places and carry the same amount of traffic as Main Street.”

    Another one of your untruths. From http://www.dallascityhall.com/pwt/CountBook/counts.htm, 24-hour traffic counts between Ackard and Ervay:

    Main Street 9821
    Commerce Street 15107 (+54%)
    Elm Street 13102 (+33%)

    The primary purpose of streets is to allow movement of people and goods between places. That is how they facilitate social and economic exchange. As we’ve seen with the I-345 debate, you’re more than willing to cripple the local transportation infrastructure and economy in a quixotic attempt to force people into a lifestyle that 99%+ of them have rejected.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    One of the most irritating one-way streets in Uptown is Cole/Carlisle. It basically forces people going from the southern end of Uptown to the northern end to take Cedar Springs/Turtle Creek Blvd. west out of Uptown, and then cut back over at either Hall or Blackburn. Makes the drive very circuitous. Also, why are the Lemmon Avenues in Uptown and Carlisle going down the hill by Texas Land & Cattle designed practically to interstate highway standards? Deadly accidents appear to occur on those sections of one-way roads on a near constant basis.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Very happy to see the City getting behind the two-way efforts in Oak Cliff on Tyler and Polk… going to make that area much more vibrant.

  • vseslav botkin

    When it comes to urban streets, you need to ensure you’re allowing movement between places and not just facilitating movement through them. Maybe some day Dallas’s car-loving skeptics will walk down the block, buy their groceries, drop off their dry cleaning, grab some coffee, take the long way home through a quiet park, and realize the lifestyle they’ve been forced into is pretty darn pleasant.