Mon, Jun

21st Century Los Angeles Flow Boulevards – Continuous Flow & Stop and Go 


LA TRANSPO -  In a two minute signal cycle of a two way single street, half the time is given to Continuous Flowing Through Traffic in opposing directions and the other minute allows local traffic movements as well as major boulevard crossing traffic to occur.

This is called a Flow Boulevard and it has over twice the vehicular capacity of a regular boulevard and the flowing traffic cuts the travel time in half as a basis for improving Los Angeles mobility.

In the image above is seen a part of the up coming animation where one minute of red cars on the Flow Boulevard have continuous flowing travel, seen from the crossing street which has stop and go traffic represented by the blue cars. The other half of the Flow Boulevard two minute signal cycle has a minute of stop and go traffic for use of local traffic for business, other land uses and to service connections of traffic to the adjacent streets and community. So a Los Angeles Flow Boulevard would have both continuous flowing non-stop movement for through traffic, and it has stop and go traffic for local and crossing traffic to serve the adjacent land use and community. This is the key traffic innovation of the single street continuous flow traffic in the Flow Boulevard system that allows corridors and networks of Flow Boulevards to come about within Los Angeles.

Given the various street patterns in LA, a single street Flow Boulevard can be connected to one way couplets, also being Flow Boulevards having the same time split for continuous flow traffic longer trips and the stop and go traffic for local accessibility. The couplet Flow Boulevards (one-way streets) are very easy to adapt to continuous flowing traffic in that it has simple progressive signalization which matches the two phase duration of the single street Flow Boulevard. Connecting these two corridor types can make a corridor through the mix of urban street patterns and even networks. At the website www.flowblvd.com can be seen an initial proposal for a 50 mile Flow Boulevard Network in the LA Basin.

The low cost of converting existing inefficient boulevards into efficient boulevards and then for example, into a LA Basin Network that interrelates all modal networks to become interconnected and more efficient, can take place quickly; and it provides the transition to a twenty first century structure of urban transportation operation. The interconnection of all modes of travel and their various networks; local streets, freeways, rail transit, regular boulevards and bike ways, supports that total transition. It also accommodates  an overall electrified urban roadway system if that is what becomes the objective. Such an interrelated set of networks and modes of travel would serve all the public and allow them to choose their preferred travel. The main modal beneficiary would probably be a fast and convenient increase of ridership in the use of buses.

Flow Boulevard becomes the urban unifier by its mobility up grade and its higher capacity ability to accept the higher density land use objectives that reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) with shorter urban trips, which is consistent with regional and LA County Metro objectives. That means the Flow Boulevard system itself is more efficient as well as the result of reducing overall trip length and miles traveled regionally, especially in single occupancy vehicles.  

The multi modal Flow Boulevard is key to making bus travel fast because the high capacity roadway will not congest during commuter periods. This allows fast economic travel meaning workers do not need to bear the expense of a car and parking to commute. As the Network gains connection through the connection to Union Station, even regional commutes connecting with the LA Basin can be easily make expanding employment choice and opportunity.

Continuous flowing traffic on Flow Boulevards reduces travel time by half the current time, and for gasoline powered vehicles at 30 mph it makes them 300% more efficient than in stop and go congested traffic, which reduces CO2 emissions to one third for that comparison; according to calculations using the EPA Moves program. This makes the transition from the 90% of current fossil fuel travel use to less polluting mobility an indispensable  means to fight Climate Change and to make the city to be more productive with greater opportunity and an improved quality of urban living as well.

Corridor planning studies are needed to interrelate Metro and City of Los Angeles current trip inefficiencies with use of connections to a Flow Boulevard Network which provides direct connections to the various cities and centers of activity within the LA Basin. Likewise the various cities, communities and centers need to step up with their various stated problems that are to be solved in corridor and community studies that they will participate in. The corridor and community scale of study allows a diversified democratic basis for representation and problem solving to occur by said community and corridor studies. These studies would reflect mobility, socioeconomic problem solving and of protecting of communities from excessive traffic as well. The bottom up participation is necessary for getting at the various community scale problem solving with comprehensive multi disciplinary guidance. Top down generalized planning mandates rarely are focused on the specific varied problem solving that needs to take place in the variety of communities that exist. 

Currently, in the case of the LA Basin, the LADOT (department of transportation) has not been able to innovate and provide what is required to solve what are structural transportation solutions regarding increased capacities to serve the increased travel demand, and the reduced regional VMT that is called for. The best the LADOT has come up with to date is to down grade mobility with less efficient movement alternatives, to “manage” travel demand. Outright car and vehicle hating policies will continue to lead to greater congestion conditions which contradict CO2 emission reduction as well.

The overall effect of not making an efficient interrelated multimodal transportation system is reduced mobility, opportunity, productivity and quality of life living standards which we seek to achieve. This is probably not intentional, but it is a result of not making the necessary innovations that solve problems and becomes a retarding effect on economic land use,  business investments and job creation which are desired, and excludes better and more housing. All these urban elements affect one another.

 One improvement is the difference in gasoline consumption between 30 mph flowing traffic and of 5 mph stop and go congested commuter traffic. Flowing traffic consumes one third the amount of gasoline, a 300% greater efficiency. So the transition from 90% of our existing fossil fuel mobility will be a long CO2 emission period without efficient roadways and the incentives to use fast available EV buses for the reduction of many miles of travel.

Within the interconnecting of multiple networks mentioned above, are many innovations that can result in better outcomes. Think more economical, frequent, fast and convenient bus travel.  However, there are many existing communities that can’t receive bus, rail and even bike use effectively, which makes them individual vehicle dependent. The Santa Monica hillside residential communities are such dependent communities. Also, what where former suburban communities that are now surrounded by denser urban development and traffic are car dependent for the most part and need protection from cut-through traffic.

It is also important to realize the necessary requirements of emergency vehicles and of small businesses to carry tools and or provisions that there services use to operate with. And let’s not forget that there are age, health, location, time limitations and life style conditions which require individual vehicles as the chosen and necessary means of travel. This means that the circulation system should serve all the various peoples needs and not exclude communities because of an inadequate mix of modes of travel in the transportation network. Study is now necessary to provide for such an efficient urban overall transportation network and to accommodate future needs and travel demand.

I have tried to inform the LADOT about the Flow Boulevard system, but to no avail. It has not helped that Metro has carried on a theme of car hating for a long time which has diminished public understanding of potential alternatives and innovation that solves problems. There is a political component as well, which is best dealt with by informed citizenry.

Therefore I’m asking for the opportunity to communicate to individuals, groups and especially community neighborhood councils so that discussion can come about with Flow Boulevard understanding of what benefits can be made regarding their community. The coming animation video communicates the continuous flowing traffic and the stop and go community access function very well. Public appreciation can help bring about the objective of making corridor and community studies that articulate specifics of what can be done. Contact through the website www.flowblvd.com can be used to reach my attention.

(Phil Brown AIA, has invented the CFT roadway system improvement by research and development that has occurred over the last twelve years analyzing the Westside traffic problems and the socio-economic needs of Greater Los Angeles. Contact is available through the website FlowBlvd.com as well as postings of his previous recent CityWatch articles.)


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