Peter – Redesigning Park Entry

Braddock Road intersection out of my neighborhood to the community gardens at George Mason Park

Across the main road from my neighborhood, there is a community garden known as George Mason Park. However, if you wanted to walk from my house to these gardens – what should only be a mile-long walk – the lack of an intersection turns it into a 2.5 mile-long walk. There is no pedestrian intersection for at least .75 miles on either side, adding 1.5 miles to your walk to George Mason Park. It’s also ill-advised to cross Braddock Road as a pedestrian – the road has an ostensible speed limit of 45 m/ph but people frequently drive 55+ m/ph on it (I’ve heard stories of people breaking into triple digit speeds on Braddock).

This means that to get to a community garden just a mile away from my house, you need to drive. And even then, you need to be willing to cut directly across four lanes of high-speed traffic. The intersection is completely and wholly designed with only cars in mind.

Above is my redesign of the Braddock road intersection. The red represents bike lanes/pedestrian crossing, the black represents car traffic, and the green represents green space in the middle of the roundabout. This is based directly on the Dutch intersections described in the Bicycle Dutch article on Roundabouts. In the article, he writes about how, despite seeming more unsafe, roundabouts are safer than the traditional four-way traffic junctions. Roundabouts shift the focus from cars to pedestrians/cyclists. Drivers are forced to look out for their counterparts on bike and on foot, rather than the other way around. I try to shift that focus to pedestrians/cyclists in my redesign.

In the redesign, cyclists have an easy right turn on each side. They would also have protected waiting areas when they’re trying to make left turns or cross the main road. The cars would have to cross the bike lanes, which may seem more dangerous. However, because drivers must yield to pedestrians and cyclists and must slow down when entering the roundabout, it actually decreases traffic accidents. The green space in the middle is used as a way to make the entire space more beautiful, rather than installing a concrete island or more asphalt, as is typical in American urban design.

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