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Buses and Shared Use Paths Move More People

by Mark Egge,

Given the mechanics of how travel demand models (TDM) work it seems inevitable that three car lanes will not provide sufficient capacity to avoid future congestion. Paradoxically, this means we should have fewer lanes for cars.

According to Streetmix, for a same 80' right of way, a section with 13' shared use paths and two bus rapid transit lanes provides capacity for 83,500 people per hour, compared to the capacity of a road like North 19th Ave with five car lanes (and weird, intermittent shared use paths) that only provide capacity for 36,000 people per hour.


If the TDM says we need more capacity than three car lanes can provide, the choice that is responsive to the city's multimodal and climate goals is to add Bus Rapid Transit and high quality cycling facilities (not more lanes for cars) to Fowler.

If the city is running models, it should require itself to model the greenhouse gas emissions of 30,000 cars per day on a five lane road versus a multimodal corridor.

Fowler would be the PERFECT corridor for a high frequency transit route connecting Billings Clinic (a major trip generator) to MSU (the region's largest trip generator).

Fowler would also be an highly effective bicycling corridor connecting the high density of housing near Fowler to the city's largest travel demand generator (MSU).

In all cases, the city needs to put a tunnel in at Huffine to make it possible to cross that stroad without standing next to 25,000 daily cars traveling 45 mph while waiting 90 seconds for a "walk" signal to cross 6 lanes of traffic. The result of prior engineering decisions is that it is awful trying to cross Huffine at Fowler by any mode other than driving.

In short, buses and paths move more people. Let's build infrastructure for the city we want (not the city the travel demand model says we're doomed to).

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