PennDOT is planning a road diet for Haverford Road from Landover Rd in Brynford all the way down to Karakung Rd in South Ardmore. They are hosting an online meeting for public comment on Thursday, January 19, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM on this Microsoft Teams meeting link.
What’s a road diet and why does PennDOT do them?
The US Department of Transportation provides an overview, “A roadway reconfiguration known as a Road Diet offers several high-value improvements at a low cost when applied to traditional four-lane undivided highways. In addition to low cost, the primary benefits of a Road Diet include enhanced safety, mobility and access for all road users and a “complete streets” environment to accommodate a variety of transportation modes.
A classic Road Diet typically involves converting an existing four-lane, undivided roadway segment to a three-lane segment consisting of two through lanes and a center, two-way left-turn lane.” (source: US DOT).
This two minute video provides a helpful summary of how road diets maintain car traffic flow while expanding bicycle and pedestrian safety and opportunities.
What are the specific benefits of road diets?
- Crash reduction of 19 to 47 percent
- Reduced vehicle speed differential
- Improved mobility and access by all road users
- Reclaimed space allocated for other uses, such as turn lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, bike lanes, sidewalks, or landscaping (source: US DOT)
Won’t this make traffic worse?
No, road diets have been shown to add benefits without reducing traffic flow.
Has anything else been done like this nearby?
Yes, there have been two successful road diets nearby. The 63rd Street / Cobbs Street Parkway road diet was recently successfully implemented and profiled by PennDOT with an extensive overview. Around the corner from Haverford Road, there was also a recent road diet on Wynnewood Road between Lancaster Avenue and County Line Road in Lower Merion.
What are the specifics of this proposed project?
PennDOT provides a project overview here.
Does a road diet necessarily mean safer walking, running, and biking?
It depends. While reduction in car crashes includes a reduction in crashes with bikers and walkers, a road diet doesn’t necessarily include attentiveness to improvements like bike lanes, pedestrian islands at major intersections, or other safety improvements. It’s important to advocate for these improvements if they’re important to you.
What area will this road diet affect?
The 2.1 mile stretch of Haverford Road that runs through Haverford Township, starting at the intersection of Landover/County Line Road and Haverford Road, and proceeding the whole way to the intersection of Haverford Road and Karakung Drive.
What challenges might this help address?
Community members have raised concerns about several issues that could be improved with a road diet like the one envisioned here. These issues include:
- Safe crossing needs at Landover and Haverford Road. Many individuals who use wheelchairs regularly traverse from Bryn Mawr Extended Care Center, located on Railroad Avenue, to the shops on Landover Road. This is extremely unsafe. Improved intersection crossings – which today must feature ADA accessibility improvements – often accompany road diets.
- Improving accessibility to the bike route at Haverford Road and Buck Lane. In 2012, Haverford Township marked a bike route along Buck Lane from Haverford Road to Darby Road. That stretch offers pleasant movement for walkers, runners, and bikers. However, connection to that route from the Brynford Neighborhood, or crossing from Coopertown into Brynford for soccer games at Preston Park or school attendance at the Friends School or Boys School, is limited by the current crossing dangers.
- Enhancing public transit accessibility at NHSL stops in Ardmore and Haverford. Crossing Haverford Road from the Haverford stop of the Norristown High Speed Line, to enter the adjacent neighborhood via Millbrook Lane, is particularly dangerous and difficult. There are somewhat better crossing opportunities at the Ardmore Junction stop, but the road diet would continue to advance safety and accessibility for both stops.
- Safe crossing needs at the busway and Haverford Road. Everyday, children going to school and numerous walkers, runners, and bikers cross Haverford Road at the busway. The township has begun making improvements in this area, but it needs more, and this will help.
- Walkable and bikeable access to businesses in the business corridor between the busway and Karakung Drive. As Ardmore is an increasingly walkable community, and more families express interest in healthy movement, walking, and biking, ensuring business have access to the next generation of customer desires is important for long term economic development.
- Safe crossing needs and walkability throughout the business corridor. Community members walking to the bowling alley just beyond the very difficult Karakung Drive and Haverford Road intersection, young people gathering there or for pizza, and customers interested in the businesses throughout the corridor, will be well served by enhanced, safe access.
How do road diets impact property values?
Generally and consistently, studies indicate increased bikeability and walkability have positive effects on home values. Studies completed on or in relation to road diets in particular suggest either no effect or a positive effect for home and property owners. A study of a road diet in the Los Angeles area identified flat effects on property values and positive effects on sales tax revenues for businesses located along a road diet section of roadway, contrasted with a similar section that did not have a diet. Another project profiled near Orlando saw property values holding steady following a road diet. Again, the big picture suggests positive effects for property owners.
What should I do if I support this road diet?
Attend the community meeting with PennDOT and make clear that you support it and why, on Thursday, January 19, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM on this Microsoft Teams meeting link.
If you support bike lanes and pedestrian islands as part of the improvements, be sure to mention that too.