Critique of the Diverging Diamond

You’ll recall that I took my recent CyclingSavvy class through the diverging diamond intersection at I-44 and Kansas Expressway. It’s scary looking. But, given the traffic speeds, it is rather easily negotiable by bicycle. Walking through it, however, is another matter, according to the following critique:

I disagree with the narrator’s comments about driving this intersection on a bicycle. It does not require one to be “hardcore.” It requires one to understand traffic — a function of education. But until such education is accessed by more people, this will appear to be a difficult intersection to travel.

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Comments 12

  1. Steve A wrote:

    YOU are a bad influence on me! Otherwise I would not have troubled to go to the original strong towns site and taken the time to note I felt the video narrative involving cyclists was both ignorant and offensive. Perhaps we both would have liked it better had he instead taken the engineer to task for designing a facility that encompassed all the dangers for a cyclist that sidewalks present, and adding the dangers of diversion falls that the barrier adds.

    Posted 12 Nov 2011 at 1:10 pm
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Steve… re: bad influence. I aim to please ;-)

    Posted 12 Nov 2011 at 3:12 pm
  3. Robert wrote:

    I’ve never heard of Strong Towns, so this is my first impression. It’s not a strong one.

    This intersection is (practically) not even inside of the City of Springfield. It’s an intersection wtih a Interstate with 55,000 automobiles per day and a State Highway with 27,630 vehicles per day. I got those numbers from the MODOT traffic data. Comparing that to the intersection in Amsterdam is……well I’m not even sure how to describe that comparison.

    I can only assume that his venom was directed at whoever sent him the video and called this a complete street. Because compared to what used to be there, and what could be there, it’s 1,000 times better for everyone.

    Oh wait, I get it. Let’s replace it with a two lanes in each direction 4-way stop. Once traffic get’s backed up all the way to Tulsa, I’m sure people will learn to drive around Springfield by way of Harrison Arkansas and the entire area will be much more pedestrian friendly. : )

    A better approach, IMO, would be to offer a better design solution. Simply mocking it because it’s not a dense downtown environment is not helpful. Not to mention that our entire world cannot be a downtown so I dont even see it’s relevance.

    I particuarly do not understand the mocking of the cement wall and lights, again, considering the context of this place.

    Posted 12 Nov 2011 at 5:40 pm
  4. Michael wrote:

    It was in the Atlantic as well.

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2011/11/diverging-diamond-interchange-abomination/453/

    Posted 12 Nov 2011 at 5:56 pm
  5. robert wrote:

    The red brick complaint is also silly. Does he really think that all motorist facilities should be punatively ugly? “You’re a terrible person for driving an automobile so your entire world view is going to suck!”

    One thing that I enjoy about driving in the southwest (and I just drove 2,100 miles through New Mexico) is how their interchanges, bridges and flyovers are colored to match the soil and often have some type of design on them (Native American?) It’s actually quite beautiful, or at least much more so than your typical one in Missouri. Cost extra money….you bet! Worth it….you bet!

    I see that most of the comments in the Atlantic echo Steve and I’s thoughts. If it sounds this way to us, I can only imagine what the average U.S. citizen thinks of it.

    Posted 12 Nov 2011 at 6:17 pm
  6. robert wrote:

    punitively….I should really start using Chrome more so it includes spell check. (hanging my head in shame.)

    Posted 12 Nov 2011 at 6:18 pm
  7. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… There’s much to be annoyed with both the videos. I think I’ve handled my thoughts on the diamond quite evenhandedly since it was built. I love it as a motorist. It functions exactly as advertised. I agree with the critic that it is an unfriendly environment for pedestrians. And I think it is certainly workable for bicyclists who can get over the scary look of it. The traffic speeds are so slow through it that I am able to keep up (and I’m not a powerful rider).

    As for spell-check, yes, I have long been a fan seeing as how I’m a terrible speller ;-)

    Posted 12 Nov 2011 at 11:48 pm
  8. Robert wrote:

    Andy,

    “I agree with the critic that it is an unfriendly environment for pedestrians.”

    What type of intersection would you have installed to make it more pesestrian friendly?

    To me, the new DD isnt what makes it pedestrian unfriendly, it’s the area and ~80,000 automobiles and semi trucks that pass through that section of Springfield every day.

    Thats what I didnt understand about many of the points he was trying to make. I doubt that the engineer in the first video actually thought that it was as pleasant as an Ozarks Greenways trail.

    What annoyed you about the first video?

    Posted 13 Nov 2011 at 7:17 am
  9. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… I wouldn’t change a thing about the DD. It’s fine as it is. It also happens to be pedestrian unfriendly. I think we need to understand it in the context of the area it’s in.

    I largely agree with the critique of the first video in regard to the context of the DD. Walking through it is OK. But there is no connection to the area that one would call pedestrian friendly.

    I wonder why the first video even went there. The DD is for moving motor vehicles efficiently. It succeeds beautifully. Without major work on Kansas Expressway to create a pedestrian connection to the DD, it seems absurd to me to even consider it in pedestrian terms.

    Posted 13 Nov 2011 at 11:12 am
  10. Coy Hart wrote:

    It may not be perfect, but this intersection works for most everybody. There is a lot of retail in this area including Lowe’s, Walmart SuperCenter, several eating places, & is pretty much commercial all the way south to Kearney. Yeah, there may not be perfect sidewalk continuity but in the past crossing 44 has been the hard part. North of here there is good shoulder almost all the way to Clinton (& the KATY Trail) much (if not all) of it signed ‘share the road’ with bikes.

    Before this improvement, south bound traffic wanting to turn left (east) on 44 could stack up for two miles … No kidding!

    Posted 13 Nov 2011 at 10:22 pm
  11. Karen K. wrote:

    Kudos to Springfield for its diverging diamond! I loved riding on it when I helped Andy teach CyclingSavvy in September. I was the first one across, and shot video of those who followed: http://vimeo.com/29993820

    It surely is a lot better for pedestrians than whatever used to be there!

    Posted 14 Nov 2011 at 9:23 pm
  12. Andy Cline wrote:

    Karen… Yes, it is better than what used to be there.

    Posted 15 Nov 2011 at 10:35 am