Changing one way streets to two way?

Member question: Richard C.

Any advice on getting the city (especially city council) to consider turning one-way roads to two-way?  It seems like low hanging fruit for safety, speed, and livability.  I’ve reached out to some city council members, but it doesn’t seem to compute, or have their energy bandwidth. 
Richard Crane



  • Comment author
    Robert Volpe
    • Edited

    I am currently building a coalition around this issue in my city.  Whether or not it works is to be determined.  But same as you, talks with individual commissioners fell flat.  Here's our new approach:

    1. Informally approach individual neighborhood associations effected by multilane, one-way streets.  (so far, every group has supported the idea of reverting the one-ways)
    2.  Compile supporting information about converting one-ways to two-ways.  Jeff Speck provides some very good information on this topic in the book "The Smart Growth Manual."
    3. Include case studies of cities where conversion has resulted in safer, more productive, and more enjoyable streets.  (current step in my case)
    4. Prepare an agenda item for the city to "evaluate the one-way streets for reversion to two-way traffic on a segment-by-segment basis"
    5. Share proposal with neighborhood groups, other interested groups (running groups, downtown improvement authority, community redevelopment associations, etc.)
    6. Set up meetings with planning and engineering departments to determine phasing, logistics, costs, etc.
    7. Group meetings with individual commissioners.  Those present should be the more influential individuals from a few of the various groups listed above (not just the loudest or most passionate individuals).  You want to select people that have relationships with the commissioners and people that they find reasonable.  
    8. Ask to present the item at a public commission meeting.
    9. Ask staff to prepare an official agenda item
    10. Present agenda item at a city commission meeting for official vote
    11. Stay involved for follow-through on the initiative.  Don't let the study be the final action.  We intend to provide information to be included in the study demonstrating the positive impact of converting one-ways to two-ways.

    I hope this was helpful.  Like I said, we have yet to find out if this works.  Like you, I plan to reach out to others that have been successful in this effort to find the best approaches.

    Good luck!

  • Comment author
    Robert Volpe

    One more thing:  You mentioned safety, speed, and livability.  Many commissioners, and most people in your city, are not deterred by the safety or livability aspect because they don't live near the one-ways.  I have found that the economic and business development aspect more persuasive.  Converting one-ways to two-ways improves the existing businesses and brings new businesses to the area.  Consider adding this to your list of reasons.


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