No longer a railroad settlement, the City of Lancaster, California, had to keep up with the changing times and growing population. The downtown thoroughfare, once called Main Street, had long been designed to service motor vehicles. Today, the redesigned, rebranded Lancaster Boulevard has undergone a nine-block road diet, which also created community gathering spaces and restored downtown’s economic vitality. But in order to accomplish this, the City had to address speeding drivers on Lancaster Blvd, which made pedestrians feel unsafe while crossing and using the street. While the speed limit on Lancaster Blvd was only 35 mph, wide lanes encouraged drivers to fly through at 40–50 mph on average.
Lancaster Blvd was rightsized from five lanes to three, transforming the three middle lanes into a parking area buffered by trees. After the road diet, the speed limit on Lancaster Blvd was reduced to 15 mph, and this time, the design of the street supports the signage, with narrow lanes that encourage people to abide by the speed limit and yield to crossing pedestrians. After the road diet, the street witnessed an increase number of visitors, people reported feeling safer, and business is booming.
“The design of the street actually affects how people behave. That’s such a deeply important concept that we are taking it into other areas of the community.”
— Brian Ludicke, Planning Director, City of Lancaster (StreetsBlog LA)
“As the block also features a built-in stage on the southwest corner of Elm and the BLVD, this has become a natural gathering place and center of events.”
— Chenin Dow, Economic Development, City of Lancaster (Institute of Transportation Engineers report)
“The work Lancaster has done on the BLVD in downtown has been nothing less than transformational.”
— Johnny, StreetsBlog Commenter (StreetsBlog LA)