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Barnett lays out the facts on Seattle's Road Diets | Congress for the New Urbanism

Barnett lays out the facts on Seattle's Road Diets

norabeck's picture
Proposed Configuration for NE 125th

Erica Barnett, in a Publicola article, "Times Columnist Ignores the Facts on Road Diets" tears apart the arguments put forth by a recent Seattle Times columnist, Nicole Brodeur, on road diets -- see "Bike lanes wobbly idea for N.E. 125th".

In regular Barnett form, she tackles the myths concerning traffic and how roads function point by point. Here are some highlights from the article below, check it out in full here.

Brodeur claims that McGinn is ignoring residents’ valid concerns about “safety, business viability, and whether cyclists should be licensed to pay for all the dedicated lanes they’re getting.”

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

First, road diets improve safety. For example, on Stone Way, a once-controversial road diet reduced the number of speeders dramatically; increased bike traffic while decreasing car traffic both on Stone Way and on nearby streets (so much for “gridlock”); and dramatically reduced collisions between cars and bikes and pedestrians. All the evidence says road diets make streets safer, not less so.

Second, there is no evidence that road diets hurt businesses. Because they improve traffic flow (and access, by adding turn lanes) for both bikes and cars, they may in fact help them.

Third, cyclists already pay for roads. The idea that we “get” dedicated lanes for free is absurd. Most cyclists already have drivers’ licenses (because most cyclists also drive cars); in addition, roads are paid for with taxes that are paid for by everyone, including sales taxes and property taxes and levies. The Victoria Transport Policy Institute has a good explanation of how cyclists and other non-drivers subsidize roads for automobiles here. Moreover, cycling creates positive externalities like cleaner air and lower traffic congestion; driving, in contrast, produces negative externalities like sprawl, carbon emissions, and health-care costs from accidents. If anything, I’m subsidizing the roads Brodeur drives on in her two cars, not the other way around.

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