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Urban Design

A Pedestrian Win in North Oak Cliff

A small effort to make a difference for perambulators.
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Today takes us to North Oak Cliff, at the intersection of Bishop Avenue and Neches Street. It’s about halfway between Methodist Dallas Medical Center and the Bishop Arts District, a street with painted bike lanes, on-street parking, a lane going north and another south, and a turn lane down the middle.

Neches is where kids walk to James S. Hogg Elementary, which is about two blocks east at Madison Avenue. It is also where drivers like to do donuts in the middle of the night.

The city has now installed a pedestrian island and a stop sign, efforts to slow traffic here while running off the street takeovers. Mayor Pro Tem Chad West, the councilman who represents this district, says Hogg Elementary and its neighbors requested it.

North Oak Cliff is becoming a playground for traffic calming efforts.

The big experiment was shrinking Jefferson by a lane in either direction, which reduced total crashes by 82 percent while the traffic volume held steady or even slightly increased. Less scientifically, construction cones ate up a couple lanes either way on Hampton Road last summer to try and slow down drivers who were treating it like a highway.

And then there are smaller efforts like this little pedestrian island—in an email thread about it, a city staffer asked whether “the medians will be regular concrete, nothing special,” and, indeed, sometimes that’s all you need—that can be done quickly and cheaply. (It looks like the city began planning in January and had it done by March 25.)

Now head a few blocks west to the Kessler School at Colorado Boulevard and Turner Street, where a painted crosswalk is now flanked on either side by a rectangular median made of brick and concrete. Traffic tends to slow as it approaches; that’s anecdotal, but hey, we’ll take it.

We often kick the city in the jeans for its often abysmal street design. But sometimes it gets things right, and this is proof it doesn’t always take a ton of time or money to keep people who aren’t in cars safe. Let’s see more of this around town.

Author

Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…

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