Wednesday, August 18, 2010

time to look beyond the windshield

A letter to the editor of mine got published online at Seattle Times' NW was a response to Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur's negative commentary about bike lanes and traffic calming.

"Nicole Brodeur’s latest column about Seattle’s road work on 125th inflates unfounded claims about road diets and falsely inflames a bikes-vs.-cars argument.

The road rechannelization project along 125th is part of a voter-supported bridging-the-gap-commitment to public livability that predates the current mayor. Road diets have not been shown to “halve the traffic flow” — city studies of the roughly two dozen road-dieted corridors show no such ill effects.

Road rechannelizations are a net positive for all road users by improving overall road safety. A pedestrian crossing at 125th is currently tenuous, but the city cannot stripe an unregulated crosswalk across 125th because of the motor-vehicle traffic. The city has had to remove crosswalks from four-lane roads without signal lights because motorists made these road configurations unsafe.

Encouraging active transportation in walkable, bikeable neighborhoods has far-reaching positive effects on public health, senior independence, obesity and child-onset diabetes in addition to widely recognized positive environmental impacts.

This street divides the neighborhood in its current configuration. The city and voters are committed to rebuilding livable neighborhoods. A road rechannelization of 125th is merited for public safety. Motorists don’t have carte blanche to speed recklessly down a four-lane road just because it leads to an interstate!

This is not a specious “bikes-vs.-cars” discussion and I hope Brodeur appraises herself of the actual results when the city works to improve road safety for all, not just the Mario Andrettis and their commute.

It’s time to look beyond the windshield."

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