ARTICLE - Rethinking the One Way Street
Rethinking the One Way Street references a study published in the Journal of Planning and Education Research in 2022. The authors observe that one way streets were created by suburbanization to allow a quick and simple drive in and out of suburbs commuting to city jobs. They allowed for higher speeds over greater distances with fewer stops. This led to unpleasant, often dangerous streets for other road users.
Today urban planners are taking heed of research that suggests converting one way streets back to two way streets can make cities safer, fairer and more robust.
The study referenced compared real world street traffic in San Francisco to test the hypothesis that one-way streets increase the distance traveled because they often force drivers to circle around one-way blocks to get to their destinations. They found that "All else equal, two-way street networks allow significantly shorter average travel distances. Intracity trips are approximately 1.7% longer on San Francisco’s existing mix of one-way streets than they could be if all streets were two-way."
The authors conclude that "One-way streets benefit drivers; but in a full accounting, the benefit may be quite small. More importantly, two-way streets benefit everyone else. They can improve air quality, safety for cyclists and pedestrians, and promote patronage of local businesses."