How does the Ashland North Main Street ‘Road Diet’ affect transportation emissions?   [Ray M.]

From a transportation GHG emissions standpoint one needs to focus on the volume of travel, the speed of travel and the types of transportation used or promoted before and after the ‘Road Diet’ implementation. From the Ashland City link below:

‘The year-long test of the North Main Road Diet pilot project was completed on October 20, 2013. The project re-striped North Main Street from four lanes (two travel lanes in each direction) to three lanes (one travel lane in each direction with a center turn lane) and bike lanes. The goal of the pilot project was to improve safety for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians, while maintaining travel times in the North Main corridor.’

‘The final technical report summary concludes that “from a technical standpoint, North Main Street operates better as a 3-lane facility than it did as a 4-lane facility.” In addition, the engineer points out that the 3-lane configuration meets the goals and polices of the City’s transportation plan because it functions as a multi-modal facility. The recommendation is to leave the road diet in place but not make permanent changes to allow for emergencies, special events or sudden change in traffic patterns.’

The study found that the traffic speed and travel times remained the same before and after the ‘Road Diet’ with less car crashes with the Road Diet. This study did collect travel volumes but I did not see specific numbers in the report. There was noted an increase in pedestrian and bicycle volume which is consistent with the aim of the Road Diet to increase safety and promote multi modal transportation.

So the net is the North Main Street ‘Road Diet’ in Ashland did not increase GHG emissions thru increased travel time but may slightly decrease emissions if more people ride their bike or walk rather than drive. There is still the remaining issue that the bike lanes do not continue thru the downtown area but do start again once south of downtown.