A Plan to Remap Des Moines' Downtown Streets to Make Them Safer

Jun 8, 2017

For the last year, city planners have been studying traffic patterns in downtown Des Moines with the goal of making the streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. They have now unveiled their early findings.

The initial plan for downtown Des Moines streets known as Connect Downtown
Credit Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A preliminary plan includes the conversion of one-way streets downtown into two-ways, the addition of much more street parking and buffered lanes for bicyclists to make travel for them safer. The author of the book “Walkable City,” Jeff Speck, is helping redesign Des Moines’ downtown.

“A street network with bike lanes is just much safer for everybody, all users, than one without,” he says.

Speck says he’s watched as Des Moines has transformed into a much livelier city, but he still doesn’t see much street life. Another of the advisers on the plan, Paul Moore, says one aim is to slow drivers down.

“Getting hit by a car that’s going 15 mph as a pedestrian, you’re most likely going to survive that," he says. "If you get hit by a car going 30 mph, you’re most likely not going to survive that collision.”

Consultants for the plan known as Connect Downtown will return once more with a final version before it’s presented to the city council.