Monday, August 06, 2007

A Real Cure For Conshohocken's Traffic Headache

The Inquirer Article "Bridge a headache for Conshohocken" shows that local planners and politicians are still referring to the old playbook when addressing traffic issues in revitalized communities. They are looking at taking the already monstorous highway-like bridge and widening it for more traffic lanes.

Here is the real problem, Conshohocken is a traditional river town with a walkable, bikeable grid network and scant parking. It has a train station, a riverfront walk and the Schuylkill River Trail. Those are the amenities that make the town an appealing place to live.

West Conshohocken's street grid has been chopped up by highway engineers to connect cars to the Schuylkill Expressway and the Blue Route. Developers were then quick to add standalone office complexes to this highway nexus. Add some uneven terrain and you may have worst place in the Schuylkill River Valley to walk, bicycle or access transit. If you think it's difficult to drive in West Conshy, try crossing the street. People feel that they have no choice but to drive between the two communities.

Widening the bridge will amplify this assault on both towns. I propose an alternate scenario, build a pedestrian bridge to a new West Schuylkill River Trail, improve the pedestrian environment by rebuilding the sidewalks and adding pedestrian refuge islands to negotiate the massive turn lanes. Put bike lanes on the bridge and its connecting streets to improve bicycling. And on the other side of the River build a new and improved SEPTA station at Conshohocken.

Michael Ronkin, Oregon's former bicycle and pedestrian coordinator and one of the nations most highly regarded bicycle and pedestrian planners often says that the most bikeable and walkable cities are the ones where it is most difficult to drive. He says "I often recommend to those visiting the Netherlands to rent a car for a day and drive around Amsterdam – it’s hell."


Anonymous said...

Ambitious! How about just starting by fixing those wheel eating grates!