Cycling and Walking Around UAB Could Get Safer

While many people enter a new year with a resolution to lose weight, James Fowler’s goal is to put some of the roads within the UAB campus on a diet instead.  As the Director of Planning Design and Construction at UAB, Fowler is working with Birmingham city officials to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic on campus streets by improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians.  The idea is to decrease the area of the existing surface streets dedicated to cars, a process Fowler calls “road diets.”

Birmingham, UAB Dr. JAmes Fowler
Dr. James Fowler, Courtesy of UAB

“This allows us the flexibility to add things like bike lanes, wider sidewalks, better crosswalks and landscaped mediums,” Fowler said.
“It will help us create a more livable, attractive campus.”

The first area under consideration involves a stretch of 10th Avenue South between 8th and 18th Streets that passes in front of the Alys Stephens Center.

The plan is to re-stripe the road to reduce it from four auto lanes to three, with one lane going in either direction and the center lane being used solely for left-turn traffic. Fowler said this change will free up space for bike lanes and high-visibility crosswalks.

“We did a traffic study in partnership with the city of Birmingham to look at any sort of vehicular impact this would have,” Fowler said. “On a four-lane facility, you spend a lot of time waiting for somebody in front of you to turn left. So going from a four-lane roadway to three lanes with a designated turn lane will have a fairly low impact for vehicles. But it would have a huge impact on bicycle accessibility and walkability through that corridor.”

Image of 10th Avenue South after changes

Fowler said he expects some sections of the project to be completed this year, but that the majority of the work will take place in 2018.

We certainly appreciate Mr. Fowler helping to make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.  This will helps us ‘skinny’ up some too, in addition to the roads.

A more detailed look at the project can be found on UAB’s site.