"Road diet" hasn't affected commute on major Des Moines artery

When the city of Des Moines put Ingersoll Avenue on a "road diet" last month, some locals warned the change would inconvenience drivers and hurt area businesses. I drive down Ingersoll several times a week and have noticed no change in the traffic flow. Now a new study shows commuters have hardly been affected:

In early May, Ingersoll was "re-striped" between Polk Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, decreasing the number of vehicle lanes from four to three. There is one lane in each direction, a center left-turn lane and bicycle lanes on both sides of the street.

In the worst case, travel times increased roughly 20 seconds for westbound motorists traveling between Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and 42nd Street during the afternoon rush hour, said Gary Fox, the city's traffic engineer. There were essentially no changes overall and slight improvements in midday vehicle travel times, he added. [...]

The Ingersoll plan is part of a broader "complete streets" initiative that aims to make Des Moines streets more accessible to bicycles and pedestrians.

Giving people safe alternatives to driving is the main reason to adopt "complete streets" policies, but this re-striping also created about 50 additional on-street parking spaces, which helps Ingersoll business owners and their customers. Click here for more information on road diets and here to learn about complete streets. Like Des Moines, the small town of Cascade, Iowa City and the Johnson County Council of Governments have also adopted complete streets policies. Earlier this year, Dubuque received a federal grant to help residents of the historic Millwork District commute to work on foot, bike, or via public transit.

LATE UPDATE: On June 24 I had to drive west almost the whole length of Ingersoll just before 5 pm, which must be around the worst time for "rush hour" traffic. I didn't notice any problems, and hardly saw any congestion except for the stretch between 24th and 31st streets. Even that wasn't bad.

  • It's a pain in the ass.

    I live a block north of Ingersoll.  I no longer use it.  I'll go to Grand or the freeway first.

  • I like it!

    Granted, I'm hyper-aware of the bike lanes before I make a right-hand turn, and I'm always hoping any bikers are hyper-aware of me too.  That said, I think the new striping has done a lot for traffic calming along what used to feel like a west-end-to-downtown thru way.

    I'd love to hear what some of the business owners who were virulently and publicly opposed think now that all is said and done.

  • Ok, so it's a little better now.

    31st street north of Ingersoll was closed for a few weeks, as is Woodland between 31st and 35th (for like the entire past year).  If I wanted to head downtown, I had to head down Woodland towards 29th St.  28th St. (where there is a traffic light) was under construction briefly as well.  So, if I had to try and turn left on Ingersoll, what I found is that now all of the traffic is forced into a single file line and gets all stretched out. Turning left from any of the side streets that don't have traffic lights is a bit time consuming.

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