Columbus city streets slimming down in the name of safety, connectivity


COLUMBUS – Slimming down to slow down – it’s a method the City of Columbus is using to improve safety on neighborhood streets.

10TV found out the method, known as a “Road Diet,” is doing much more.

These days it isn’t just people who slim down in the name of self-improvement.

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Cities across the country are investing in road diets.

“Sometimes when we do a Road Diet, we may remove vehicular lanes that are no longer needed due to changing travel patterns and repurpose them for things like bike lanes, parking or wider sidewalks,” said Reynaldo Stargill, traffic management division administrator for the City of Columbus.

The idea being, if a typical four-lane road is slimmed down, traffic will slow, creating a safer environment for bikers, people walking and residents in the area.

The city tried the strategy just a few years ago in the area of Indianola Avenue and Morse Road.

“Since we’ve installed the Road Diet, we’ve seen a reduction in the average travel speed on Indianola but that reduction in travel speed hasn’t resulted in a great increase in travel time. So if you’re a motorist still using Indianola, you can still use it, get to where you need to be, but we’ve also provided a safe space for bicyclists and by reducing those speeds, also safer for pedestrians as well,” Stargill said.

Beyond safety, Stargill explained that Road Diets help connect communities through infrastructures like bike networks while saving money in the process.

“The cost of pavement markings is a much, much lower cost than you know, if we’re going in and doing a bunch of widening to accommodate things and stuff like that,” he said.

Joylena Rounds manages Dabble and Stitch, a quilting shop that sits on Arcadia Avenue, near Columbus North International School. The city of Columbus applied a Road Diet in that area earlier this year.

“It’s nice that the roads are finally smooth,” Rounds said. “The potholes were really rough for the first could of years; flat tires all the time and then we had to deal with like, over a year’s worth of construction.”

But Rounds also said the narrowing of Arcadia Avenue negatively impacted the parking situation for her business and others on the street.

“With the bike lane, it took one whole side of Arcadia Avenue’s parking away. So the parking ability for our customers has been very limited,” she said. “Especially since most of our customers are a lot older so it’s harder for them to park a block away and walk all the way down here.”

And while Rounds explained she believes the Road Diet has slowed traffic some, she still witnesses a lot of close-call incidents that she’d like to see addressed.

“Since this is a street that has a school and lots of children in the neighborhood, there could be some more stop signs, a crosswalk with lights, maybe even some speed bumps,” Rounds said.

For residents and businesses with feedback, Stargill suggests reaching out to 311, adding that the city listens to each comment that comes in to the line.

“Any time we do install a new configuration we understand it takes some time to get used to it, but like I said, we always try to listen and accommodate and make fixes as we see it.”

As for the next area that could slim down, Stargill said West Broad Street in the Franklinton neighborhood is on their radar.