March 16th, 2021
BRIEF OVERVIEW; 100 MILES OF FLOW BOULEVARD ARE NEEDED!
The Flow Boulevard concept has become a system comprised of two different boulevard types and the interchanges that connect them one to another, all of it having continuous flowing traffic on revised existing boulevard right of ways. The main advantage is to double vehicular capacity in existing corridors to create a network to solve both mobility and land use problems creating better communities throughout greater Los Angeles, and in other cities as well. Using existing boulevard right of ways has obvious affordability advantages as compared to other transportation modes and systems requiring new rights of way and structures.
The flow boulevard system stands to become a major planning reset for Los Angeles. By being so affordable and quickly improved, it allows community traffic problem solving that is accompanied by land use improvements which in that process can be used to solve socio-economic conditions as well. Growth with higher density in corridors would contain sprawl while still allowing growth. The reduction of excessive CO2 emissions by eliminating vehicular congestion can be a major way to fight Climate Change as well as provide the transition to a non-fossil fuel future efficient city. The benefit of saving travel time for cars, trucks and forms of bus travel, improves the function and quality of urban living.
If traffic and commerce does not come back in Los Angeles post Covid-19, it indicates there is something wrong with our planning, economic and environmental policies. We want to provide new jobs, affordable housing as well as utilize the commercial space and business relations that have existed here, and to make them grow. A hollowed out Los Angeles is not acceptable.
Flow Boulevards can be the catalyst to bring about better socio-economics when combined with programs such as opportunity zones. More and better jobs can be attracted to communities if there is a strategic plan to make living in those communities better and more equitable. The major pre-Covid-19 problems Los Angeles had were a lack of good paying jobs, an unrealistic growth plan with fighting of Climate Change, unaffordable housing and too much traffic congestion. Flow boulevards can start good results in all of those conditions by making affordable, efficient growing communities by addressing those conditions through urban design structured by the fundamental corridor transportation improvement made with continuous flowing traffic on Flow Boulevards.
An ample supply of parcels with good access to employment, services and amenities would keep the cost of land and development reasonable through competition. The well-functioning access system opens the market for the condition of equity with fair participation resulting in the better socio-economic community and access to the built environment.
Flow boulevards can provide the appropriate new mobility infrastructure to affordably make the better city Los Angeles needs to be. Because it can be made to occur quickly, it stands as the only infrastructure system that can be effective against Climate Change efforts and to provide a full range of economic advantages for people of various economic levels due to the broad network which would involve the many communities. At the same time, it has the ability to attract investment that results in an improved tax base that helps pay for its way as change and growth occurs. Regarding housing, a major incentive should be made to provide the “economic ladder effect”, where the monetary equity build-up like individual condominium ownership is made through the variety of housing types and costs, that are available as the improving communities and flow boulevard network develops. A hundred miles of flow boulevard should be studied to form a strategic plan to revive the economy, accommodate more people and provide growth to make an affordable, economic and efficient city.
TWO STREET TYPES COMPRISE THE FLOW BOULEVARD NETWORK
The Single Street Flow Boulevard corridor has cross traffic intersections typically on a module of approximately one mile intervals. The evenly spaced intersections, with synchronous traffic signaling and the controlled average vehicular speed give the continuous flow traffic in both directions of a single street Flow Boulevard for its length. Between On-Module intersections a median provides timed crossing vehicular movements along with entry and exiting of traffic with abutting local streets.
At 30 mph for vehicular packs of traffic it would calculate to be that On-Module intersections having traffic signal cycles for crossing traffic on a two minute cycle. The flow boulevard packs of traffic generally have 80 seconds of green signal and the gaps between packs allows cross traffic at the On-Module intersections which include turning movements for the cross traffic and the boulevard vehicular turning movements would have 40 seconds of that two minute signal cycle. At a bit less than two seconds on center for vehicles in a flow boulevard pack lane, that makes approximately 40 vehicles/signal/cycle. There are 30 signal cycles per hour making 1200 vehicles/lane/hour, which is the effective doubling of capacity over existing randomly spaced intersections in existing boulevard traffic.
The second street type is The Couplet Flow Boulevard which has a pair of one-way streets separated by a block or more and has progressive signalization giving it the continuous flow of traffic in both directions of travel without the need for regular spacing of crossing intersections which is the case in the single street flow boulevard. With the progressive signalization it means the pack of vehicles can have 30 mph continuous flowing traffic like the Single Street Flow Boulevard and have compatible pack length and gaps between them because the traffic signals for the one-way streets are turning green for the 80 seconds as the head of the pack is arriving at each traffic signal regardless of the spacing between traffic signals. The gap between the vehicular packs would have the same 40 second signal period for crossing and turning movements. And the same capacity is made of 1200 vehicles/lane/hour so the two different roadway types are made to be compatible. There are interchanges to connect the two roadway types for end to end connections, “T” shaped side connections and crossing Flow Boulevard interchange connections, all with continuous flowing traffic between the two types of flow boulevard.
WHAT IS NEW IN PLANNING AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT?
The flow boulevard is so new it comes with a USPTO patent that will be issued in March of 2021. The purpose of the patent is to see that the innovation is used correctly, to reward the many innovators that are involved in the urban design process, and to see that continued contribution is developed for the benefit of the public. A broad range of social, economic, technological and intellectual outcomes would emerge as new jobs in the corridors take place as the network is developed.
The urban design profession of planners, economist, architects, engineers, along with related disciplines generally participate with the public to establish a new higher level of urbanism to be expressed through community plans. The process is essentially bottom-up planning as opposed to being top-down. This is because the flow boulevard is made of elements of the community scale itself and can be responsive to the existing conditions and its many participants and their needs. If the major problem is traffic and climate change, that would be addressed. If the major problems are socio-economic, then a combination of roadway, related land use development and incentives can be addressed in problem solving.
LOS ANGELES IN TRANSION INVOLVES THE RESOURCE OF ENERGY
A Flow Boulevard network structures the appropriate transition to a more efficient Los Angeles. The affordable broad improvement affects the many communities making mobility free of congestion and citizen participation directs proximity of new needed land uses. A transition is also made in the use of energy. Expensive energy whether electricity and or fossil fuels is to be avoided to arrive at affordability and to allow growth to occur. Both energy sources have improvement ability regarding Climate Change. A flow boulevard network reduces CO2 emissions as well as VMT which helps the lengthy transition to the non-fossil fuel mobility on the network of the future. Expecting reliable quantities of electricity can’t be expected for some time. The large quantity of gas powered vehicles is an investment people can’t easily give up. So a transition can quickly begin with continuous flow traffic that eliminates excessive CO2 emissions. And many forms of regular and electric autonomous vehicles on flow boulevards can provide better forms of mobility and transit with the ability to work on and off the Flow Boulevard. Light rail transit has been shown to cause congestion if put in a boulevard, and heavy rail as in subways is too expensive, takes too long to build and results in too few miles of improvement to be effective to quickly obtain climate change goals, and of being unable to fulfill social equity objectives.
STIMULATING NEW GROWTH IN THE ECONOMY
In the communities that need new growth and jobs special planning can be made to analyze and develop how to fulfill those objectives. Make known the process is available and make contacts to attract employers that want to expand operations. This is also a participatory endeavor and exhibits a willingness to help implement development. With the ability to serve many new housing units by new roadway capacity, and provide specialized land use for services, outreach is made to attract large builder companies and start-ups, to show how they can be accommodated in the transforming city. Existing large industries need to know if expansion can be done locally.
MAJOR CORRIDORS TO BE FIXED IS DISCUSSED
An example of a major mobility fix would be using a flow boulevard to eliminate congestion in the Los Angeles Westside along the 405 Freeway between Sunset Boulevard and National. It is a case of where a flow boulevard is fixing a freeway problem as well as the congested streets that connect to it. Here a flow boulevard can be made to straddle the 405 freeway comprised of Sepulveda on the eastside and a roadway on the westerly side which connects to Sawtelle going south both of which would connect to Culver City. This in effect is a flow boulevard as a frontage roadway that serves land use as well as serving the major distribution and collection of vehicles between the 405 and the Westside boulevards. The effective increase in corridor capacity is 120,000 to 150,000 person trips per day alleviating congestion within the Westside connecting boulevards as well as alleviating congestion on the freeway itself. Rapid bus transit would be integrated on the Flow Boulevard and the Freeway.
Besides the congestion issue there is the excessive CO2 emission, which is really big, but can be addressed. Using the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s program called MOVES, a calculation of 1,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per day, pre-Covid, can be shown to be eliminated by the congestion elimination that the flow boulevard would provide. The flow boulevard concept can be used in like conditions in Los Angeles County. The freeways around Downtown Los Angeles and other major destinations could turn up similar useful applications.
A more typical application of a flow boulevard to eliminate congestion is exhibited by the use of a flow boulevard in a Santa Monica Flow Boulevard in the City of West Hollywood within Los Angeles. There the through traffic demand before Covid-19, and presumably to return post pandemic, was so great the traffic congestion caused a collapse of travel speed to 5 mph and below during the evening “Rush HOURS”. At 5 mph that equates to about 300 vehicles/lane/hour. By the introduction of a flow boulevard that changes the capacity to 1200 vehicles/lane/hour or four times the traffic flow. That clears the traffic from congestion during the evening and morning peak periods. And again, this transformation occurs not by widening the roadway but by utilizing continuous flowing traffic in existing ROWs by the new flow boulevard organization of signal timing and controlled traffic movements. The Santa Monica Flow Boulevard has had preliminary study between East Hollywood to West Los Angeles where it would connect to a Sepulveda Flow Boulevard which straddles the 405 Freeway.
Beverly Hills for example, can have in effect, a separate set of streets aside from a flow boulevard that serve the residential and business circulation needs so through traffic on a Santa Monica Flow Boulevard does not conflict with the internal traffic of Beverly Hills. Using eastern and western portals separate access to the Beverly Hills business district avoids a traffic tie-up that would otherwise congest traffic with turning movements along the flow boulevard adjacent to the downtown commercial district. The separate Beverly Hills access south of the flow boulevard would be connected to the portals which becomes exclusive for Beverly Hills access and the flow boulevard through traffic will take the faster through route of the flow boulevard. Access between the residential and business areas of Beverly Hills are exclusive and direct, whereas restricting the flow boulevard turning movements at those cross streets along the business district leaves those few cross streets to serve Beverly Hills access.
A Sunset Flow Boulevard between East Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles in the existing Sunset Boulevard right of way, points out how some corridors are quite easy to adapt to the requirements of a single street flow boulevard. Besides the On-Module intersections which provide direct crossing of the flow boulevard there are three existing grade separation crossings which would allow direct crossing as well. The Sunset Flow Boulevard is approximately 4 miles long and would be a good transit corridor serving the Downtown Los Angeles Regional Core and events at Dodger Stadium.
Another easy corridor is the Hollywood Couplet Flow Boulevard comprised of the couplet of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue as the one-way street couplet between La Cienega in West Hollywood and the interchange into the Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood which would then connect to the Sunset Flow Boulevard to Downtown Los Angeles. The couplet flow boulevard through Hollywood and West Hollywood can have any spacing of cross street because it would have progressive signalization. Right or left hand turning movements can be made to enter or exit each couplet one-way street, and the reversal of direction is made by going around the block between the pair of one-way streets. This lets any adaptation of land uses to have savings of time and money spent on that.
In 1972, Phil Brown proposed an early and incomplete Flow Boulevard system concept, as a member of what was called The Citizens Plan for the Wilshire District. At the conclusion of the planning process, then LA Planning Director Cal Hamilton put a proposed flow boulevard corridor comprised of Western Avenue and Oxford Street on the final Community Plan. The two street corridor still exist to this day on what is known as the Koreatown Community Plan but has not been organized as a one-way couplet.
A 30 Mile Basin Loop of corridors can be made for the LA Basin to improve the circulation and land use within the Basin now that a complete Flow Boulevard system has been created comprised of the single street flow boulevard, with connecting interchanges at grade, to couplet flow boulevards where appropriate . A Western/Oxford FB would be the eastern side of the loop. A Santa Monica Flow Boulevard would be on the north side, and on the south would be a Venice/Washington FB. The forth side, or western corridor would be the Sepulveda/Sawtelle FB that would straddle the 405 freeway.
A basic Loop Plan configuration can be seen at www.FlowBlvd.com. That makes the 30 Mile LA Basin Loop complete which would then have extensions of those corridors to Downtown LA, South LA, South Bay, more Culver City to the west, and a Sepulveda connection to the San Fernando Valley to the north and to LAX to the south. In a 100 mile corridor study, it would have more corridors to be studied.
OTHER COMMUNITY PLAN OPPORTUNITIES
Communities pretty much all have special relationships with flow boulevards. Not only because of the street patterns being different but travel demands both internal to the community and for travel to or mainly through the community can be different. This is where urban design occurs and of course the communities themselves have the full range of land use differences as found in the complex different land uses within large cities. This presents an opportunity to improve the communities themselves both functionally as well as in livability as found in the built environment as well as to get the right balance of road capacity within the limits of the adjacent land use travel demand so traffic problems do not develop again.
Many residential communities have “cut through” traffic problems due to over development where the associated travel demand has exceeded the boulevard capacity and other streets in that community. This is where the doubling of capacity by making the existing boulevard into a flow boulevard would allow a reset of relationships where through traffic will stay on the boulevard and not seek other means of travel through residential streets.
Community by community the individual problems of a community are resolved. Individual plans would be made with new and better relationships between traffic and land use, making better use of the new flow boulevard and the existing street pattern.
So far, defending a community from traffic problems has been mentioned. In other communities a flow boulevard would allow a new opportunity to up- grade land use because there is additional capacity to then be available to accommodate desired development. The objective of a better community with the proximity of business and services in walking environments and convenient bus and other forms of transit, along with affordable entry level as well as market rate housing can up-grade the community and generally make greater efficiency of the urban form and its function. A full range of multiple use buildings, appropriate for the community, allows an up-grade of the community along with the improved traffic access.
More efficient communities have a regional benefit as well by reducing VMT by the proximity of work, services and urban opportunities through the innovative use of flow boulevards. The elimination of a great deal of CO2 emissions can be expected by the large reduction of VMT by the large amount of shorter average length of trips being made.
FUTURE FLOW BOULEVARD WEBSITE NEWS
At some future date, following this website up-date of the Flow Boulevard Concept, there will be news on steps taken to implement the concept. Some descriptive images can be expected as well.
Communication can be made using the Website contact to, Phil Brown.