Road Diet or No Road Diet: a Case Study of the Fifth Street Corridor

The "Fifth Street Corridor" is the section of Fifth that runs between A Street and L Street through Downtown Davis. This corridor serves many modes of transportation, including vehicles, delivery trucks, buses, emergency vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles. How the corridor is configured impacts these modes of transportation and the properties, businesses, and events served by the corridor. In the recent couple of years, discussions of the Fifth Street corridor raised several issues related to pedestrian safety, bicycle connectivity through the downtown core area, motor vehicle travel impacts in terms of delay and accidents, and economic impacts to the downtown business community. Different strategies were explored by the city traffic engineers to address these issues, which included mostly traffic engineering fixes ( e.g., changing the operations of the F and G Street signals on Fifth Street (CIP #8714)). While the city implemented some of the traffic engineering strategies, an alternative strategy, a road diet to reduce the number of lanes from 2 to 1 and adding a bike lane in each direction, was proposed by the Old North Davis Neighborhood Association. The city traffic engineers did not embrace this road diet plan, citing a study commissioned by the city that such a plan reduces the capacity for vehicle movements and creates unduly long delays for cross street traffic. Some members of the Old North Davis Neighborhood Association believed that the study commissioned by the city was flawed and would like to have a separate, independent study of the road diet plan, and compare it with other alternative plans. In recognizing the limitations of the prior study and the myriad interests that the Fifth Street Corridor commands from the local constituencies, the relevant staff was asked to prepare a plan to address the subject in a more comprehensive manner, and to engage the community to gain a better understanding of the full breadth of interests and issues. This project performs a systematic evaluation of various alternative traffic engineering/road diet plans for the Fifth Street Corridor, and attempts to ferret out the entangled relations between road design, traffic behavior, traffic safety, system efficiency and mode share, so as to draw useful guidelines for the adoption of road diet plans in small to medium sized communities.