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Theslowlane.comBiking around Bellingham.

When traffic volume goes up, engineers have a plan; add more lanes, but is there also a plan when volume goes down? 

They say "down?"  "You know, we never really thought about that."

Well now there is a plan; reduce the lanes a reclaim the space.  Create a more friendly street for all.  Pedestrian and bicycle advocates are starting to suggest lane reduction on an urban arterial; especially where traffic volume no longer justifies so many lanes.  It makes the street friendlier.  Two wider lanes, rather than 3 narrow ones, can even make the experience less nerve wracking for drivers.  Besides the slightly wider lanes, extra space is also available for a bike lane. 

This plan was tried on State Street, in Bellingham, WA., during a re paving project in 2001.  The street looks calmer and more residential in nature.  This fits a new trend that is developing for use of downtown buildings; housing.  Like the older cores of many cities, people are rediscovering the virtues of living in a higher density neighborhood.  Downtown is becoming a residential address of choice.  It is getting a healthy mix of housing, small businesses and recreational opportunities.  The new street fits right in.