COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Road Diet Case Study: Reinvigorating Downtown Lancaster One Lane at a Time

Jan 31, 2019
Jan 30, 2020

↵ Back: A Placemaker's Primer on Road Diets

Left: Lancaster Boulevard before road diet (2009). Right: After road diet (2011). Courtesy of the City of Lancaster.
Supporting the speed limit with street design helped the railroad settlement of Lancaster, CA, transform its old Main Street into the new Lancaster Boulevard, a safer public space, bursting with economic, social, and civic vitality.

The Highlights

  • Pedestrian involved collisions have decreased by 78%
  • Motor vehicle collisions decreased by 38%
  • 57 new businesses have opened on Lancaster BLVD
  • Retail sales of increased by 57%
  • Revenue from the downtown area has increased 119% from 2007 to 2012

The Details

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.

Word on the Street

“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)
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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space