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Over the last few weeks the bicycle community has been frustrated by the “road diet” discussion. The thought is, road diets are implicitly good, so why aren’t more people supportive of them? Why aren’t opponents of plans swayed by the fact that streets that undergo road diets have been shown to have enough capacity? And why don’t opponents seem to care about the safety of pedestrians, cyclist and motorist alike?
Seattle Likes Bikes, Publicola, Seattle Bike Blog, and the SDOT blog have all weighed in, mostly in response to the now infamous article by Nicole Brodeur of the Seattle Times, although the discussion certainly applies to every project that aims to improve safety. The consensus is that discussion about these projects must not become car vs. bike, both because these projects are not about that and because this construct does not allow for a productive discussion on how to improve the road for all users. Road diets or whatever you want to call them are about making our roads work better and more safely for everyone. It would probably be better to call them “safety and operational enhancement projects” because that really is what they are.
They make left turns easier and safer, make through travel smother, allow pedestrians to safely cross previously dangerous intersections, and allocate space for bicyclist to safely ride out of the way of motorist. As someone who lived close to Stone Way before and after the road diet I can tell you it did wonders regardless of whether I was driving, biking or walking.
Today at 9am KUOW will have a piece on road diets, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be very balanced. Tune in and if you feel so compelled call or e-mail KUOW your comments.