Road Diet Disconnect


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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.




Comments

  1. Cyclist Mike says

    Thank you for pointing this out. I’ve been on other [smaller] forums discussing this topic pointing out the exact same observations and pros that these projects are actually accomplishing. I can only hope that KUOW actually does a “fair and balanced” piece on this.

  2. Kaleci says

    You know – I was somewhat surprised that Highway 99 in Snohomish County was built with a two-way left turn lane. I would think providing an unprotected left turn across three lanes of traffic would be not preferable. I think the City of Shoreline has it spot-on by forcing cars to make u-turns at mostly signalized intersections (I think there is one place to make a u-turn at a non-signalized intersection).

    The other improvement I think should be considered for Highway 99 in Snohomish County is to actually make the right lane transit/right turn/bicycle.

    • Adam B. Parast says

      Yeah this goes along with the idea of access managment. It’s something that isn’t done nearly enough despite the fact that it has so many safety benifits.

    • Mike Orr says

      There are left turns on I-5 in northern California (north of Mt Shasta, where the population is sparse). You also see them on 55 mph US and state highways in rural areas. It’s just how they built things before the mid 1960s.

  3. groan says

    “And why don’t opponents seem to care about the safety of pedestrians, cyclist and motorist alike?”

    Well, in many folks’ minds, because it has been unchanged for decades so why do we need to change it? The negative outlook is then compounded by the “swap” of a auto travel lane to a bike lane. It doesn’t help how it is being sold either…

  4. AJ says

    The reason it’s failing is because the PR and policy behind it has been handled very poorly. Look at the messaging, it’s called a “road diet” — that alone is inflammatory. Nobody likes being told they need to go on a diet. Combine that language with the fact that it includes improvements for biking and walking and of course drivers will get up in arms over it.

    If you improve the messaging and stop trying to pretty it up with terms like “road diet” and go right to the science of it, you can easily get support for the changes from the public.

    I would call it a “traffic flow and public safety improvement” and use pictures rather than words to convey the benefits, saving the wordy screeds for describing the public safety risks that are being mitigated by the changes.

    • Gary says

      after “road diet” add the inflammatory “bicycle improvement” and instantly car drivers think that bicyclists dreamed up this plan to take their lanes away. It’s just nuts. The bicycle lane is almost an afterthought or a byproduct of the road diet.

      Plus I can tell you that Rainier Ave South which had one of these road diets is a lot better for autos, (the dedicated left hand turn lane) and bicyclists, as there is more room for the bike lane and it’s not right in the door zone of parked cars. Not a quiet street to ride on but it feels safe enough to commute on.

    • Adam B. Parast says

      Yep. I think what needs to be stressed is that each component of the change is a response to a particular problem that currently existis. However I also think that facts only go so far with some people.

      • AJ says

        It’s all about messaging — and SDOT has dropped the ball completely. Of course, it’s very easy to pick it up again by pulling back and refocusing their efforts and taking back the PR side of the changes.

        Suggestions:
        1) Stop calling it a “road diet”, it’s condescending to many
        2) Stop approaching motorists and cyclists as two entirely different entities; having a complete street means the whole thing functions as a unit, even if solutions are different
        3) Stress safety and efficiency and speed benefits for all
        4) Focus more on motorists; cyclists are already at a disadvantage and any improvement is welcomed with open arms — putting them at odds with motorists for the millionth time will only breed conflict

    • NSBill says

      While I agree with the idea that road diet is probably inflammatory, your suggestion isn’t much better, if at all. Though not inflammatory, it’s easily ignored (which could be what is wanted). At least “road diet” gets the conversation going. It’s similar to listening to someone like John Kerry droning on about some 12-word federal statute he’s voting on and the Republicans coming up with a pithy “brand” name (like “death tax” or “road diet”). The 12-word description may be more accurate, but it’s boring and won’t capture anyone’s imagination. So the phrase could be a more positive one, but let’s not go all analytical if you’re talking PR.

      The one thing I still don’t understand is why are we building all these bike lanes on arterials? When I started biking more and more one piece of advice I got was, don’t think like a driver and ride on main roads. It seems like this is partly what this project is doing.

      • Brent says

        Nobody is forcing anyone to use bike lanes on arterials. And as has been beaten to death, this project is about safety, especially for pedestrians who want to cross the road without going 15 blocks to the nearest stop light.

        But you unintentionally feed into the talking points of the Nicole Brodeurs. She blithely suggests bikers use NE 130th St. Since you’ve biked that path, you probably know what an asinine suggestion it was. She clearly hadn’t studied the maps, so she didn’t realize how ridiculous she was being.

      • alexjonlin says

        It’s different for different riders. I like riding on arterials, especially with bike lanes, because they frequently are the only streets that go through all the way, and because they have signalized intersection, most of the time I can just breeze through the intersections. Other people like riding on side streets, so they are working on making bicycle boulevards to serve them.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Yep. As where the BMP mostly focuses on arterials any update will have a more balanced approach, trying to meet the needs of both experienced cyclist and learners.

      • AJ says

        It was merely guidance and not a realistic suggestion — a better idea would be simply saying “traffic enhancement” like they do with most traffic flow projects that involve changing the infrastructure.

    • Mike Orr says

      “Road diet” has a specific meaning, where you reduce auto lanes specifically to expand other capacity (e.g., an HOV lane). It’s like how a “bus stop diet” means removing stops to increase speed. If the project is not specifically intended to constrain cars and benefit one other use, it should be called a “safety improvement” or “all-users improvement” or something.

  5. joshuadf says

    I don’t actually think all that many people are opposed, just the very vocal usual suspects. Check out the comments from actual residents here:

  6. Geoff says

    People are opposed because cyclists don’t pay taxes like car owners do. They are unlicensed and are notorious for breaking the law.

    Add to the fact that there simply aren’t enough of them to warrant all this spending.

    • Adam B. Parast says

      These are common talking points but they really don’t past muster. The fact is most bicyclist owen cars and the majority of transportation funding comes from flat fees, sales tax, property tax (funding this project), and federal grants. Second most bicyclist abide traffic laws just as well as most drivers. If you want people to abide laws more you should hold all roadway users to this standard, especially those that pose a danger to others, ie motorist. And finally the total costs of these projects are a *pittance* compared to what we spend on a single road project.

      • Geoff says

        Simply scoffing at criticisms is a really arrogant and annoying way to debate, and in the end, you really prove nothing other than your own ignorance.

        You have to be licensed to legally drive a car. You don’t to ride a bike. And you are complaining that drivers aren’t being held to the same standard?

        I can count on one hand how many times I have seen cars blow through stop signs and red lights without even slowing down in my entire life, yet I lose count of the amount of cyclists I see doing this on a weekly basis. Do not sit here and try and compare the two, it is not even close.

        Surely many cyclists own cars, but plenty do not. Should they get a free pass?

        I have never understood the desire for cyclists to ride on main thoroughfares to begin with. For example, there are bike lanes on 24th Ave NW in Ballard, yet if I were a cyclist, I would feel much safer going down 22nd Ave NW. Obviously you cannot do this everywhere, but you can in most places.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Licensed or not, can you count on one hand the number of cars you’ve seen speeding?

      • Geoff says

        I never said anything about speeding. Speeding is not nearly as dangerous as blowing through controlled intersections. I have seen plenty of cars speeding in my life.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        “Speeding is not nearly as dangerous as blowing through controlled intersections.” Please cite a reference for this. It’s quite safe for an alert bicyclist to run through a red light. Similarly, much of the time speeding isn’t too dangerous. But if I were to guess which one has killed more people, my money’s on speeding.

      • Jeff says

        Stand at the lower entrance to Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island. The number of cars blowing that stop sign is unbelievable. Yet the MIPD harasses the bikes.

        Take a walk around Factoria. The number of cars blowing through crosswalks in violation of traffic law is higher than the number of bikes blowing through said crosswalks (proportionate to traffic volumes of each).

        Its just as disingenuous to state that all cars follow the law as it is to state no bikes follow the law.

        The underlying bias of these arguments is that CARS are always transporting people for BUSINESS and that BIKES are always just out screwing around. Neither one of those statements is true either.

      • Geoff says

        Matt,

        You ask me to reference my statement and in the same breath spew out your own statement with no reference.

        Nice try.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        So you honestly believe that more people die each year from bicycles running red lights than from cars speeding? No reference needed. It will be informative enough to know your opinion.

      • doug says

        A third of all roadway deaths are speeding related. Here is a link.

        Speeding is extremely dangerous, Geoff. To moan about bikes running stop signs and then to simply brush off speeding makes me believe that you are more anti-bike than pro-safety. Also, since you cite your own anecdote to prove that bikers are nuts, I see cars run stop signs and stop lights every day. Also, I’ve seen cars pull into the opposing traffic lanes to avoid bad traffic. Thus, I have proved that everyone who drives a car is a law-breaking nut, right?

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Geoff I’m not scoffing at your statement. You wrote *three* short sentences on three extremely broad and complex topics. How am I supposed to respond to that?

        If you really want to engage in a discussion on this topic your comments need to reflect this and from your tone it unfortunately looks like you don’t have any intention of doing that so I’m not going to waste my time arguing with you.

      • Derek says

        When cars travel at an average of 10 to 20mph, weigh 20 pounds, and are powered by a 0.25 horsepower motor, maybe we’ll consider letting you to drive it without a license.

        It’s not a direct comparison, the potential for damage and risks born from inattentive driving and riding are separated by orders of magnitude.

    • M says

      I’m pretty sure everyone pays taxes. If I am incorrect, someone tell me so I can go out and get bikes for my entire family.

    • Mike Orr says

      Some cars endanger bikes, and some bikes endanger cars. We probably can’t be any more precise than that.

  7. Lightning says

    West Nickerson Street, at least, is much improved for all users since it was narrowed from four lanes to three.

      • Norman says

        The road diet on Nickerson has not been in place long enough to possibly have any meaningful data on accidents. You must be kidding.

      • Joshua Daniel Franklin says

        The FHWA study shows that road diets provide a statistically significant reduction in crashes. Therefore, I predict that the Nickerson road diet will result in a reduction in crashes over time. This will reduce unexpected delays for drivers, as well as save tax dollars which would have been spent cleaning up after those crashes.

      • reality based commute says

        Almost every time one of these road diets happen, accidents go down and neighbors like the change. There is plenty of real world empirical data–you just want to ignore it.

      • Bernie says

        neighbors like the change.

        Yeah, I’d like to see the road in front of my house blocked off; and actually hope it will be. But even if my neighbors like the change it pales in comparison to the number of “non-neighborly” folk that use the road for a cut-through route.

      • Hugh says

        It’s reduced the probability of motor vehicle accidents by decreasing the mean speed to the posted limit.

      • Brent says

        Uh, careful with the claims and terminology here. Nickerson does have stop lights. Those lights obviously bring the mean speed down from the limit. Do you mean the mean top speed? If the mean is still at the limit, people are still speeding in between the lights.

      • Lightning says

        No vehicular weaving in and out of lanes while at the same time the road twists and turns. Slower vehicular speeds. More breathing room for cyclists. For those reasons, safer for both cyclists AND motorists. So it takes another minute or two to drive from the Fremont Bridge to the Ballard Bridge. Big deal.

      • Norman says

        How is slower vehicular speeds a benefit to motorists? Just makes trips take longer.

        Weaving in and out of lanes has never been a problem for motorists on Nickerson. That is nonsense.

      • alexjonlin says

        Reducing vehicle speeds to the speed limit makes the road safer. Yes, it takes longer, but it just takes longer than how long it would take if you were breaking the law.

      • Lightning says

        It has for me, Norman. True, I am a meeker driver than most, but I do feel safer with the single lane. On occasion I have already signaled and switched to the left hand lane preparing to go the Ballard Bridge (I normally drive to the right) and a car will pass me at speed on the right, then cut in front of me to get back into the bridge (left) lane. It happens and I can live with it–I drive defensively. I only say that I prefer the new lane configuration.

      • Norman says

        These road diets do not “just reduce speeds to the speed limit.” During peak hours they reduce speeds to well below the speed limit, and well below what they were before the diets. And that is the problem.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        So you no longer drive 50mph to wait in line to get onto 15th. But your overall speed is the same (road diets generally don’t affect traffic volumes). Get over it.

      • Mickymse says

        I’m actually going to have to agree with Norman on this point…

        SDOT folks usually speak about one of the reasons for a “road diet” proposal is that some number of drivers (always over 3/4 at the meetings I’ve attended) are driving 10 or more miles over the posted speed limit.

        I’ve got to ask, then. If so many drivers are going faster than the posted speed limit on a stretch of road, and the accident rate isn’t dramatically higher than on similar roads, why not raise the speed limit?

        And I’m not speaking about whether or not the road is safer for non-vehicle occupants, or if the carrying capacity is there, or whether or not some of these roads should be reconfigured to make them safer for all users… BUT the reality is that the citation of this metric suggests that, yes, road diets cause the large majority of users of these stretches of road to travel at slower speeds and take longer to get to their destination.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Your assumption is wrong about road diets making your trip longer. Your trip will be the same length of time. See my other comments about this. Regarding increasing the speed limit? Check out the Stone Way study. Road diets absolutely increase safety. The last thing we need are people driving faster on city streets.

      • Mickymse says

        It’s not, though, Matt. While the time effects should be negligible across a small stretch of road, the more this gets implemented, the more it begins to add up. And you don’t get to dismiss the decrease in travel time as negligible, but cite the increase in safety (which, as I recall from the Stone Way study was real but negligible) as a plus. That’s just showing bias with the numbers.

      • Norman says

        Matt’s comments are just bizarre. What does volume have to do with trip times? If a street has 500 vehicles per hour on a 2-mile stretch and the speed limit is 30 mph, if you reduce the speed limit to 20 mph you can still have 500 vehicles per hour, but the speed will be slower and the trip times will be longer.

        Same vehicle volume — longer trip times.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        @Mickymse

        Road diets are about stopping people from speeding, not keeping them from traveling the speed limit. This whole discussion reminds me how republicans refer to a return to normal tax rates as a “tax increases” even though it really is the end of a tax cut.

        Just because people act in a way that is illegal doesn’t make it right to make that the baseline.

      • Bernie says

        If my taxes go up I consider that an increase in taxes. I guess that’s why I’m in the “prefers Republican Party” camp. What’s a “normal tax rate”, 40% of what you earn, 20% on investments and 10% on what you spend? Add in user fees and it’s starting to sound a lot like “There’s one for you, nineteen for me.” I guess I should just be happy if the 5% for me covers bus fare :-(

      • Norman says

        “Road diets are about stopping people from speeding, not keeping them from traveling the speed limit.”

        That is just an absurd statemen. Look at some of the streets with “road diets”. Are you claiming that traffic on all these streets is going as fast as the speed limit during peak commute hours?

      • reality based commute says

        Mickymse–how important are you that you need to be able to cover a few miles at 45 instead of 35? Covering four miles in the city at 30 would take you eight minutes. Covering four miles at 45 would take six minutes.

        Having a street that is safer and better for livability is far more important than your precious few minutes.

      • Michelle says

        Slowing down traffic does not make trips take longer.

        The difference between 30MPH and 35MPH on, say, a 5-mile trip (if you could drive at a steady speed the entire way without stopping) is 10 minutes versus just under 9 minutes. It only feels faster. But you can’t maintain a steady speed – and after all of the traffic and red lights, it comes out to just a few seconds.

        But wait, there’s more. Speeding is a factor in a large number of crashes, and those crashes cause congestion, detours, etc. A recent study showed that Americans would actually reach their destinations faster by slowing down a little bit, purely as a result of the improved safety.

        If you can reduce congestion further by making left turns safer and giving people the option to walk, walk to transit, or ride a bicycle (especially on short trips), you will see even more savings in travel time.

      • Mickymse says

        It’s not about how important I am, thanks… I’m asking questions.

        SDOT is saying that the vast majority of drivers on these roads are speeding, not a handful of people. This suggests to me that this is the “normal baseline” on these streets right now, and has been for some time. It should come as no surprise to us, then, that folks get up in arms about changing it. Being “right” doesn’t help your argument any.

        More importantly, SDOT is not leading with the argument that “road diets are about stopping people from speeding, not keeping them from traveling the speed limit.”

        If we see reducing speeding as a very good outcome to these processes, then why aren’t we encouraging SDOT to speak of them that way and to spin them that way in the press? I assume citizens are far less likely to be angered by a “Reducing Speed for Safety” project than a “Road Diet.”

      • Matt the Engineer says

        [Norman] and many others are missing the point of road diets. They match the road capacity to the capacity of existing bottlenecks. Taking [Norman]‘s example, if the bottleneck was 500 vehicles per hour then it doesn’t matter if the stretch of road before the bottleneck was 20 mph or 30 mph – exactly 500 vehicles per hour are making it through. In the 30mph existing case they just waited longer in line at the bottleneck. In the 20 mph case they drive slower but wait in a shorter line.

        Think of pouring sand in an hourglass. Pour it quickly and you’ll fill the top of the hourglass faster (this sand represents cars waiting at a stoplight) – but not a single extra grain of sand will fall to the lower part of the hourglass any faster.

      • Mickymse says

        Matt, that is simply WRONG. I have never heard SDOT give “match[ing] the road capacity to the capacity of existing bottlenecks” as the reason for rechannelization.

      • John says

        It’s not just SDOT who needs to change the way they sell projects like this. Advocates, including Streets for All, need to think a lot harder about the PR/messaging components of these things. Being right, and having the facts on your side, doesn’t take away the need for thinking about how projects get spun. Points above about trying to reduce the cars vs. bikes meme are right on – we need to be talking about pedestrian and motorist safety benefits much, much more.

  8. Norman says

    Bikes don’t pay gas tax. Bikes don’t pay to park. Bikes don’t pay MVET. Bikes don’t pay license fees.

    The main problem with the “road diets” is that they make trip times for motorists longer. SDOT will not even discuss trip times on these streets, because they know the “diets” make traffic slower and increase trip times. Why would anyone be surprised that motorists do not like projects which make their trips take longer? Is this so difficult to understand?

    I asked an SDOT representative about trip times on Dexter now, and after the “road diet”, and he said they don’t even talk about trip times. lol Like that should not even be a concern to anybody.

    • joshuadf says

      Trip times cannot change more than a couple minutes when you’re traveling less than a few miles. It’s roughly the same amount of time as missing a light, or getting in a checkout line behind someone that takes long time.

      Oh, and most cyclists actually do pay all the taxes you mention, because they also use cars. Bikes obviously don’t pay the taxes since they’re not people. Cars aren’t either.

      • Norman says

        You can’t even make the distinction between being a car owner and being a bicycle owner?

        As a bicycle owner, you do not pas gas tax, license fees, MVET, or parking fees/taxes.

        If you also own a car you pay those taxes as a car onwer — not as a bicycle owner.

        In other words, if you only own a bicycle, you don’t pay those taxes. If you only own a car you pay all those taxes. Those taxes and fees are levied on car owners — not on bicycle owners. This is not complicated.

        You are correct about one thing, though: road diets do make trips for motorists longer, and that is why many motorists oppose these road diets — because they make it take longer to get where you are going.

      • Zed says

        Blah blah blah. Don’t you ever have anything new to say? The gas tax only makes up about 7% of SDOT’s budget, the rest comes from a variety of taxes, mainly property taxes. Most of the streets in Seattle were built and paid for by the developers who originally built the neighborhoods – drivers don’t own the streets, people do.

      • Norman says

        Parking fees, parking tickets and the commercial parking tax combined take in over $60 million per year for the city of Seattle, alone. That money goes into the city’s general fund. The fact that the revenue generated by motor vehicles is not earmarked specifically for roads does not mean that motor vehicles don’t generate as much revenue as is spent on roads.

        It’s just an accounting gimmick.

        What have you said today that is “new”?

        Drivers are not people? lol

      • Cyclist Mike says

        Those who only take public transportation shouldn’t be allowed to use the roads that the buses use either! DOWN WITH PUBLIC TRANSIT! DOWN WITH PEOPLE! Woo! I love slippery slope arguments (eep, I think that’s the right one)

        Norman – as my name suggests, I’m a cyclist. I also… wait for it…. waaaiiiitttt… own a vehicle! I’m not saying that all cyclists own cars, but I would argue that most of us do.

        Regardless, the roads are public property, not private. They are available for everyone to use. Until some private company comes along and installs a new road and prevents bicyclists from using it, you cannot use this argument that only those who pay gas taxes, MVET, etc., can use the roads.

      • Norman says

        I don’t recall making that argument.

        I am saying that “road diets” make travel times worse for motorists. And nobody has denied that.

      • Cyclist Mike says

        Unless I’m missing something, your first post in this particular thread brings up the taxes and other various fees that motorists pay. If you weren’t making that argument, then you would not have even brought up that issue.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        I hate it when Norman calls me “nobody”. Road diets generally don’t affect traffic volumes. Translation: same trip time. Road diets are usually bounded by bottlenecks and only reduce your speed for that section, not the trip.

      • Norman says

        That is one of the strangest things I have ever read, that reducing the number of lanes while keep traffic volume the same does not affect trip time. When they close lanes on I-5, that does not make trip times on that stretch longer? Really?

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Take Nickerson. Is it really the speed of unimpeded traffic that is the bottleneck? No. It’s 15th and it’s the Fremont bridge. You could build a 40-lane freeway between the two with speed limits of 100MPH, but your trip would still take just as long.

        Here’s the basic concept of a road diet: find a road that has been over-built with bottlenecks at either end. Match the road capacity to those bottlenecks. It’s not rocket science and it’s nothing that even car-lovers need to complain about.

      • Jason Mitchell says

        Norman, you wrote: “That is one of the strangest things I have ever read, that reducing the number of lanes while keep traffic volume the same does not affect trip time.”

        It’s strange to you because don’t understand the term “traffic volume.” You’re confusing it with capacity. Traffic volume is a function of both time and space. Maintaining traffic volume, by definition, means that you are moving an identical number of vehicles through a corridor over an identical period of time. It is physically impossible for traffic volume to remain identical over a given period of time while trip times increase.

        As Matt the Engineer highlights above, the point is that in some cases you can reduce capacity without reducing volume. In other cases, it is a matter of whether there is an acceptable reduction in volume given the potential increases in safety, in the experiences of other road users, and in the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhood.

      • Mickymse says

        No. I HATE to be defending Norman here, but SDOT argues that one reason for these “road diets” is to reduce the significant number of drivers breaking the speed limit.

        It’s not a road capacity argument. SDOT is saying that the road can carry X number of vehicles at the speed limit with two lanes or four lanes. But Norman and I are saying that the current number of vehicles there are traveling at a higher speed.

      • Norman says

        “It is physically impossible for traffic volume to remain identical over a given period of time while trip times increase. ”

        What are you talking about?

        If there are 200 vehicles per hour on a street 2 miles long, and the speed is enforced at 30 mph, that 2-mile trip will take 4 minutes.

        If the same street has the speed limit reduced to 15 mph and that speed is enforced, then you can still have 200 vehicles per hour on that street, but trip times will be doubled to 8 minutes.

        Same volume but double the trip times because the speed of the vehicles has been halved.

        You are claiming that my example is “physically impossible?” How?

      • Adam B. Parast says

        @ Mickymse again

        Road diets reduce speeding because passing is no longer possible. This is just like any two lane highway you drive on in the country. You can’t go any faster than the person in front of you, even though you might all be going 70 MPH. This means you can reduce capacity to a level above volume while still significantly reducing speeding.

        I’m a traffic engineer so I’m not just pulling this out of the air. If you really want to learn more about this read the highway capacity manual.

      • Norman says

        “You can’t go faster than the person in front of you.” On this, we agree.

        And, the person in front of you is never a truck, or somebody else, going well below the speed limit? Forcing everyone behind them to crawl along at whatever speed the truck can reach, particularly on an uphill stretch?

        Do you disagree that road diets reduce the number of vehicles which can get through an intersection on one green light?

      • reality based commute says

        Norman and Mickymse–unless you are a brain surgeons on call, you can probably spare the few minutes. In almost every case, these road diets have improved mobility for all. Fauntleroy and Stone Way have both been big successes.

      • Mickymse says

        That is certainly true by your metrics for success… but as I comment below I don’t want to improve mobility for all on every street in Seattle; and I’m worried that we’re damaging our cause by doing so.

        I want to improve some streets to make them safer for walking, biking, and transit; but I also want to maintain and improve some streets for faster and more efficient use of cars.

        Supporting transit or not (and other alternative forms of transportation), the fact still remains that the majority of people are moving around by single occupancy vehicles.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        [Norman] Where happens to your 200 vehicles per hour when they hit a 100 vehicles per hour bottleneck? The problem with streets like Nickerson is that they have too much capacity. This leads to fast driving to wait in line.

      • Joshua Daniel Franklin says

        Making a trip a couple minutes shorter should not be the city’s highest priority when it comes at the cost of public safety. Absolutely people who speed 20 mph over the posted limit get places faster–but they are also more likely to crash, and the crashes are more severe. Reducing the number of lanes on streets is a small inconvenience for a better street design that makes speeding less likely.

        (And Matt makes a good point above… if your trip is constrained by a bridge being up, whether you travel at 30 mph or 45 mph in the middle make absolutely no difference.)

      • Mickymse says

        Joshua, I have not seen ANY data presented by SDOT thus far that shows a statistically significant difference in accidents and relative safety in places where these projects are proposed.

        If accidents were occurring at particular intersections or significantly more likely to occur on, say, 125th vs. an arterial with comparable volumes I’d heartily support redesigns. Again, that’s NOT what SDOT is presenting to the public.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        [Norman] It doesn’t take a bridge being up to make it a bottleneck. Have you driven in that area near peak commute hours? 15th is backed up, as is the approach to 15th from Nickerson, as are all approaches to the Fremont bridge.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        [Micky] Please read the Stone Way study. There was a very significant decrease in accidents and injuries there. Complaining there isn’t a crystal ball study before putting paing on pavement is asking for wasted money and time.

      • Mickymse says

        Funny that you make that suggestion, Matt… I just reviewed the study again this morning.

        I don’t disagree that accident rates are improved. I’m saying it’s not that significant. For example, there were 7 accidents with bicyclists before the change and 7 accidents with bicyclists AFTER the change.

        Since there are many more bicyclists utilizing Stone Way now, it is actually safer to ride there. But that’s not a large difference.

        What IS a significant part of the safety improvement is the decrease in sideswipe and left turn lane accidents. But that should come as no surprise since cars are no longer changing lanes and left-turning cars only have to cross a single traffic lane.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      Many car-lovers come off as entitled and ignorant using tax arguments. We all pay taxes, and you don’t own the roads.

      Actually, gas tax pays about a third of state highway projects (the rest comes out of our general fund), and exactly zero of our city roads. State license fees only pay for the licensing department.

      • Norman says

        A large part of state gas taxes goes to cities and counties to pay for city and county roads. You are completely wrong about that.

        And where did you get that gas tax pays about a third of state highway projects? Please document that assetion.

        Thank you.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Read it. I spent the effort there researching the actual state budget and linked to their PDFs. I’m not going to repeat that process for ever “Prove it!” you post.

      • Norman says

        http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Finance/budget/BudgetPieCharts.htm

        According to wsdot, in the current budget of $8.8 billion;

        $2.48 billion is from state gas tax;
        $336 million is left over from the previous budget;
        $2.46 billion is from bond sales (paid off with gas tax revenues);
        $1.91 billion is from the federal gas tax (distributed to states);
        $886 million is from licenses, permits and fees (not from bikes);
        $295 milion is from ferry fares;
        $418 million is from “local funds and other” (don’t know what those are)

        So, about $4.39 billion — half — of the wsdot budget is from state and federal gas taxes, and the $2.46 billion in bond sale revenues will be paid off with gas taxes. So, that comes to about $6.8 billion out of $8.8 billion of the wsdot budget coming from state and federal gas tax revenues. Most of the rest is from Licenses, permits and fees and some from ferry fares.

        I don’t see anything coming from the “general fund”. Do you?

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Those bond sales you mention? That’s just a back door to the general fund. And the $1.91B is not from federal gas taxes – it’s from federal funds that are an amalgamation of different sources.

      • Norman says

        Wrong.

        And wrong.

        The bonds are paid off from the WSDOT budget — not the general fund. You keep making stuff up.

        So, where is the 2/3 of the WSDOT budget that comes directly from the state general fund? You want to show us where you find that?

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Norman this isn’t a WSDOT project this is an SDOT project. There is a big difference. Regardless of where the money comes from this project is *cheap* so arguing over money is just a red herring.

      • Norman says

        I’m not talking about money in relation to road diets. I’m just correcting some of Matt’s bigger untruths.

      • reality based commute says

        Norman and Mickymse–unless you are a brain surgeons on call, you can probably spare the few minutes. In almost every case, these road diets have improved mobility for all. Fauntleroy and Stone Way have both been big successes.

        And if you drop your bike vs car rhetoric for a second you would realize that the only way our street grid works is because of bikes, peds, and transit. If all of those people were in cars your precious time would be even more limited due to congestion.

      • Charles says

        whoa, I can remember a time when the entire state budget was less than $3 billion. Now we have just one department at 8 billion. amazing.

      • Mickymse says

        *SIGH* This is what frustrates me about following comments on this blog some times… and why it attracts folks like Norman.

        You can’t just make up things because it feels right to you. There is nothing objective in the statement “these road diets have improved mobility for all” or saying that two projects have “been big successes.”

        Please define your outcomes and then evaluate.

        If the goal of Stone Way’s “road diet” was to increase its use by bicyclists or to decrease the speed of cars, then YES they have been successes.

        On the other hand, if the goal was to prevent diversion of traffic during peak hours to side streets or to make cars go the speed limit or below, then NO they have been failures — by SDOT’s own objective analysis.

    • Brent says

      Bikes don’t cost $2 billion for all their infrastructure between downtown and the airport. I guess your gripe against Link isn’t about the money, since bike infrastructure is so cheap.

    • Brent says

      Bikes don’t cost $2 billion for all their infrastructure between downtown and the airport. I guess your gripe against Link isn’t about the money, since bike infrastructure is so cheap.

      • Norman says

        My gripe about Link is that it is insanely expensive for the few people it moves. Plus, it is slower between downtown and the airport than the 194 bus was.

        How much would it cost to build a bike path between downtown and the airport? Do you know?

        I don’t recall complaining about the monetary cost of “road diets.”

      • Brent says

        I don’t know how much bike paths cost. They tend to be much more expensive than bike lanes, though, and aren’t a good commuter option in most cases.

        Obviously, you have a gripe with “road diets”. If it isn’t the cost, what is it?

      • Norman says

        I already wrote: road diets make trips by motor vehicles take longer.

        You would see that if you read my earlier posts.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Road diets don’t generally change traffic volumes. This means your overall trip takes just as long. You’re just not speeding through one section to wait in line at the stoplight.

      • Norman says

        If there are two lanes in each direction, twice as many cars can get through each green light. With one lane lots of cars will have to wait for more than one green light to get through those intersections. This causes backups which increase trip times.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        As long as the road diet doesn’t touch the bottlenecks at both ends and doesn’t create a bottleneck bigger than those two bottlenecks, I don’t care if they add an obsticle course and a sobriety test: your trip will take the same amount of time.

      • Mickymse says

        Again, stupid question… Then why not spend the money on finding ways to fix the bottlenecks?

        Or is your argument that the road diets eliminate congestion at some of these intersection/signal chokepoints?

        I could see a case for the second point in some of these proposals, and I would actually prefer to go slower but be moving more constantly than moving faster but sitting through multiple light cycles or backups at a stop sign.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        “why not spend the money on finding ways to fix the bottlenecks?” I’m quite sure that if they could fix bottlenecks for the same price as a bit of paint on the road, they’d do it immediately. But take Nickerson. On one side you have 15th and on the other side you have the Fremont bridge. The cost to fix 15th would be the cost to replace the Ballard bridge with more lanes, increase the size of 15th for at least 5 miles, and rebuild a dozen intersection (we’re talking billions here). And that would just fix it short-term, since you can’t build your way out of traffic and we’d just induce more driving. To reduce the bottleneck on the Fremont bridge side would require even more engineering and construction.

        The fact is that we live in a city. If we all want to drive, we’ll have to accept a bit of traffic. Road diets don’t create more traffic, they just smooth out that traffic and make it more safe to be around cars.

      • Norman says

        What bottlenecks? This is absurd. There is a lot more capacity at each end of Nickerson than just one lane in each direction. The “bottleneck” is the single-lane road in each direction that they have turned Nickerson into.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Whatever you’re smoking, I hope you sober up before you drive. What bottlenecks?!?!? Seriously, I can’t think of two better examples of bottlenecks than the Ballard and Fremont bridges.

      • reality based commute says

        Insanely expensive compared to building more lanes on our freeways and arterials? Pick your poison.

    • Jennifer B. says

      Motorists are not entitled to shorter trip times by exceeding the speed limit. If “road diets” slowed traffic to speeds lower than the posted limit, motorists MIGHT have a beef (which would then have to be weighed against the overall safety of all roadway users). But they don’t have a right to speed, and they look arrogant when they oppose roadway improvements that have the effect of getting them to actually comply with the law.

      • Norman says

        Road diets mean only one lane in each direction through intersections, instead of two (in many cases). This cuts in half the number of vehicles which can get through that intersection on a green light. This means that you have a much greater chance of having to wait at an intersection for more than one green light, which of course makes your trip longer, even if you are traveling at, or under, the speed limit.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        But your overall trip time is the same. Traffic volumes unaffected = same travel time. In the case of Nickerson, for example, your bottleneck is at 15th or at the Fremont bridge, not at the stoplight on 3rd.

      • Norman says

        Not true. If you have to wait for more green lights to get through intersections, your travel time increases.

        Let’s say 30 cars can get through a green light in each lane. With two lanes going through this intersection, it can handle 60 cars per minute with no backups.

        With the same 60 cars per minute wanting to get through that intersection in only one lane, only 30 of them can make it on one green light. The other thirty will have to wail for the next green light. This causes backups which keep getting longer and longer as more and more cars get backed up.

        What do you think causes backups at intersections?

      • Cyclist Mike says

        This is a worst case scenario and light synchronization can be changed as traffic patterns are studied. But a flaw in your argument for a 4-lane road is when people want to make a left turn lane at an intersection that does not have a left turn cutout. If a car cannot make a left turn safely until the light changes to yellow, then that car has just blocked 30 of your cars from entering the intersection. The “road diet” does not make this situation any worse; in fact, it allows left turns without blocking the lanes by providing that center turn lane.

      • Norman says

        That assumes there are no left turn lanes, and that there are always cars wanting to turn left at every intersection at every green light, neither of which is always true on streets where these road diets are being implemented.

        Light synchronization can’t be changed without impacting traffic on cross streets.

      • Cyclist Mike says

        You’re also assuming that traffic at intersections is always at peak capacity. Norman, there’s no pleasing you.

      • Cyclist Mike says

        Moderators, feel free to delete above post as it broke your HTML formatting.
        Never again will I copy/paste from a PDF…

      • Charles says

        I’m finding myself in the bizarre condition of agreeing with Norman on this subject. The argument about speed limits and safety on a 4 lane arterial is specious. What I’ve seen around Seattle are some arterials with 30 or 35 mph posted speed limits but the natural (and safe) speed for that road would be 35 or 40. 5 mph over a posted speed limit might be illegal but it is hardly unsafe.

        While I am very much for building transit and I believe it is the necessary direction our society must go in, please do not make our advocacy for transit a war on the car. I’ve seen this before in the suggested designs for 520 as well as the viaduct. The proposed designs for the new 520 bridge would disrupt several commute patterns including Roanoke and the Montlake area. The tunnel is a boondoggle that will disrupt a number of commute patterns.

        I see road diets as nothing more than making driving more frustrating, longer and untenable with a goal of getting people to choose transit to simply save their nerves or to make car travel times be more congruent with public transit. But what it accomplishes is making enemies. Seattle’s loss are businesses that choose places like Kent or Tukwila taking with them the population and tax base that are desperately needed. And guess what, Kent and Tukwila are car dependent cities.

        What’s next, is the city going to put in barriers and traffic circles in neighborhood streets so that when the inevitable backups occur on arterials that people trying to cut through neighborhoods to escape the blockages get further flummoxed?

    • G-man (type E) says

      Trip times are reduced when the mean travel speed is lowered to the speed limit, yes. Because people are no longer speeding or weaving between lanes of traffic. I have no sympathy if you based your expected trip times on breaking the law and endangering people’s lives and property, and are now constrained to operating in a manner that is safe. Bicyclists do pay taxes that fund roads, as other commenters have noted, but if that’s not good enough for you, then why not propose a specific tax levied on bicycle sales and bicycle parts and services, dedicated to bicycle infrastructure and improvements. How about a two dollar tax per pair of shoes to pay for sidewalks/crosswalk improvements? As a driver, pedestrian, bicyclist and transit user, I would support that.

      • Norman says

        This is nonsense. During peak hours, traffic on some of these streets was below the speed limit before the road diets. After the road diets it is well below the speed limit.

        You are just making stuff up.

    • kurisu says

      Cars don’t pay gas tax. Cars don’t pay to park. Cars don’t pay MVET. Cars don’t pay license fees.

    • Mike Orr says

      Cars have a huge impact on the neighborhood, and sloppy drivers can (and often do) kill people. That’s why drivers have licenses and pay special taxes.

      Bicyclists’ impact is a small fraction of that, and it’s even less with proper bike lanes. Yes, a bicyclist can kill a pedestrian, but much less easily. A bicyclist can’t do much to a car except put a dent in it.

      And if you want to lessen America’s dependence on oil, you want to encourage bicycling, not discourage it with licenses. Although I’m not 100% opposed to bicycle licenses if it’s tied to a safety course.

    • Gary says

      My goodness Norman! This stretch of Nickerson is 1.4 miles long, so it takes about 3 minutes to drive it at 30 miles an hour. (I know 30 mph is unusually slow on this street.) Even if it take 25% longer, that is 4 minutes. Norman, I feel sorry that you are so stressed about a minute. But I also worry that you may run me down as I try to take a left off of Nickerson to get on the newly extended bike trail.

      I seem to be in the minority of cyclists who prefer the trail over Nickerson. It’s quiet and scenic. While I like road diets in general, I don’t think this one was necessary for cyclists with such a good option close by. The left turn lane going eastbound at 13th is all I need.

      However, there may be other benefits to people living along Nickerson. If really gets traffic to slow down, pedestrians and residents will have an easier and safer time in thier neighborhood. They pay taxes. I hope they deserve it.

      • Brent says

        Lest we forget, there is a school on that street. I’ve never seen such vitriole before in favor of those who speed through the middle of a school campus.

  9. belleviewer says

    Many years of Nickerson driving — have biked it — and even cited for speeding there. On off hours — not much difference with the road diet, but during peak periods the traffic situation is beginning to degrade severely. Just waiting for the UW and SPU to start up next month.

    I’m sad that the representative on the Radio blew off the highway 99 Tunnel rerouting issue. The Road Diet was planned before and entirely separate from the 99 Tunnel project. Watch what happens with the re-routing of Port of Seattle, Cruise Ship, Shilshole, Ship Canal Industrial, Fisherman’s Terminal, Ballard, Magnolia and Queen Anne Traffic is re-routed onto Mercer and onto Nickerson, when the Western Ave / Elliott Ave Portal to the viaduct is removed.

    Nickerson is one of the few east west corridors available in Seattle.

    • Brent says

      The politicians continue to fantasize that Interbay-to-SODO traffic will head to the tunnel via Mercer, or, even more unlikely, via Nickerson.

      Nope. That traffic will just take Alaskan Way or whatever waterfront street is available. It doesn’t matter which option is implemented (tunnel, rebuilt viaduct, “surface/transit”). That will still be the quickest route, so that will be the path that traffic takes. The toll in the tunnel will clinch it.

      There are only two ways to get Interbay traffic to take the tunnel:

      (1) Ban trucks from using Alaskan Way (which won’t happen, since it would expose the Big Lie that the tunnel has anything to do with moving freight faster);

      or

      (2) Re-design the tunnel to head toward Interbay instead of Aurora.

    • Adam B. Parast says

      When the tunnel is finished in 6 year we can revisit Nickerson. It is just paint.

  10. Dummies says

    It’s amazing how ignorant people can be. This city is horribly unsafe for people, especially kids. I am so fu***ing sick of how badly streets are designed and only designed for cars. If I had my way I’d seriously curtail where cars could drive by eliminating most left turns on arterials, closing residential streets to thru traffic and creating one way entry and exit points into residential areas.

    • Aleks says

      Seriously — why is it that the people who say “road diets are unnecessary” are the same people saying “everyone wants to live on a suburban cul-de-sac to keep their kids safe”?

    • Mike Orr says

      Sorry, the open street grid disperses traffic and makes neighborhoods safer. Everybody chooses a different route, and moves to an adjacent street if there’s a bottleneck.

      Having one neighborhood exit creates a bottleneck, and forces people to drive further than they normally would, as well as creating confusion re which way to go through the maze. It also forces people to walk a longer distance unless pedestrian cut-throughs are provided. It makes neighborhoods less safe by having less “eyes on the street”: minor streets remain deserted most of the time.

  11. Jim says

    I have long supported more transit, more bike lanes, more rail to increase mobility but the the road diet(or re-channelization) is bad way to achieve these objectives. It simply decreased mobility in the city. Yes, of course there will be less crashes– this is obvious when you reduce lane but you also decrease capacity. In some places this ok because the peak capacity is not needed– in others it is critical i.e. Nickerson. Nickerson is a critical east west corridor in a city which does not have many because of geography. NE 5Oth Street is another. In both these places, the road diet is a disaster. I was in a 45 minute backup the other day.

    What really galls me is that the road diet is being touted as panacea for everything. There may be places where is appropriate but there are many where it is clearly not.

    The city, its people, its businesses need some East/West four lane streets. To eliminate them is economic suicide. It also does not promote unity among the people who see the need for bike lanes and the people who use the roads for commerce, doctor appoints, to travel across the city to see a sick relative or friend etc.

    • Norman says

      N.E. 50th is a good example of a street where a “road diet” made traffic east-bound between Stone Way and I-5 much worse.

      Where are the city’s stats on travel times before and after the road diet on this street?

      • Norman says

        No. I mean that cars crawl on this street well below the speed limit in the afternoon peak period. And it takes more than one green light to get through intersections.

        As I suspected, you have obviously never even traveled this street during peak hours, or you would have known that.

      • Eric says

        I’d have to agree that the 50th road diet made that road very painful to use. I lived on stone until a few months ago and have to give that one a wash as far as effect. The intersection at 40th is better and overall I found it neither better nor worse than before as a driver or pedestrian (can’t comment as a biker).

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Are you sure the road diet caused this? It seems to me that the issue with 50th is the bottleneck at the stop light and at the freeway. There’s no road diet at either of those bottlenecks.

      • ericn says

        That intersection at 50th/Stone/Green Lake is horrible, both for driving through and walking across. You could have ten lanes on either side, but it would still be a super-slow 5-way stop light.

    • Brent says

      The businessman quoted in the Brodeur article was way off base. Most of the businesses in downtown Lake City depend on the nearby neighbors who walk to those businesses. Transit-oriented development made it possible for family businesses to survive there.

      The through-traffic doesn’t stop, except maybe for the Freddy’s or the chain stores. If traffic goes faster, even less of it stops to patronize the local shops.

      For people who can take Lake City Way toward downtown, why would they take 125th instead?

      • Mike Orr says

        “For people who can take Lake City Way toward downtown, why would they take 125th instead?”

        The same can be asked about bus 41. How many people ride it to/from 5th Ave NE and NE 125th St? Would it serve people better on the faster Lake City Way and Northgate Way like the 75 does? Or is the 5th/125th corridor vital? I don’t live in Lake City so I’m not sure myself.

      • Brent says

        Well, the comparison breaks down on this point:

        Is driving east on 125th to Lake City Way, then going south, a two-seat ride?

        But for those who do it on the bus, it means customers for downtown Lake City. And if car drivers aren’t driving east to downtown Lake City, then, well, they aren’t the source of commerce. Moreover, we non-car-owners have more money to spend on things like dropping in for a Pad Thai lunch special. (We don’t pay taxes, so I’m told.)

        The businessman was an outlier. But the rest of the business owners, not feeling threatened by a pedestrian safety project, haven’t chimed in to scream that the sky is falling. I think it’s rather telling that only one business owner is screaming that.

      • Mike Orr says

        Well, my point is, Lake City needs some kind of RapidRide. When North Link is finished, people will want to take the train to Northgate and a shuttle to Lake City. I would prefer the 75 routing because it seems slightly faster. But those who live around 5th/125th would doubtless prefer the 41 routing. Hence my question: how much ridership potential is there really in that corridor, compared to the other corridor. If we abolished the 41 and put everything on Northgate Way/Lake City Way, would that be a really bad idea? (There could also be an east-west bus on 125th/130th to Aurora and Broadview, but that’s another thing.)

      • jennifer says

        -Before 8AM the 41 has eleven runs that leave Lake City, the 75 only has eight. The 41 route seems to be more oriented to move people often. Maybe because the 75 has to go all the way to Ballard, influencing the downtown riders towards the 41 will help keep the 75 on time.

        A couple things influence use of the 41 by the residents north of the 75 Route.

        -The 75 would have to connect well with the 41 going downtown from the transit center. A rapid ride option that did this well would take some pressure off the current 41 route. I’m not too familiar of the use and implementation of the rapid ride buses so I am not even sure if this is applicable.

        -A route is needed to connect that swath of area to the transit center. The 347/348 that go up and down 15TH AVE NE do a really good job for that corridor but if you live around the streets 3RD AVE NE through Roosevelt the 348/347 is kind of far compared to existing service options. The park and ride north of the Best Buy/Target complex is now closed and becoming a park :), so the 41 is the only route in that area anymore connecting to transit center.

    • reality based commute says

      Road diets are only applied to streets with volumes that support those alignments. You are not eliminating four lane streets, just matching their design to the traffic on them.

  12. Brent says

    Not completely on topic, but since we seem to be focusing on bikes at the expense of public safety, I wanted to share an observation from yesterday.

    I saw two bike police wheel their bikes on board Link. It took them a couple minutes to locate a hook. Then the first cop pointed out the symmetry of the car, so the second cop could hang his bike.

    Welcome to Link, SPD. Your presence is reassuring. With Link, deploying bike police across the city will no longer require a fleet of cars.

    • Brent says

      They have an APB on a cranky guy with a cell-phone camera and a clicker counter. They were told they could probably find him on the light rail, if they rode enough times. But nobody could confirm how old or fast this guy was, so they brought their bikes along.

      • Lloyd says

        Usually wearing a baseball cap, blue jeans and sneakers sitting on the left in the back car of the train. I could have pointed him out to SPD had I been on the train, but I was paying my taxes at City Hall.

  13. jennifer says

    I lived near 125TH & 12TH for 5 years now. Every time I need to take a bus downtown I have to cross 125th to get to the south bound 41 bus stop. As a seasoned jay walked on 125TH I can tell you that it is not a super busy street.

    During rush hour I might give myself 2 or 3 more minutes if it is SUPER important that I make the bus. I do not drive or bike so it’s walking and busing for me.

    This area of the city might see a lot of traffic compared to country road number 2 out in the middle of nowhere but just because it’s in the city (barely) doesn’t mean there is horrendous traffic.

    Also it’s not just myself at my house who does this, I’ve lived with 3-4 other people and we’ve all had jobs downtown or need to commute through downtown and we all use this 41 stop frequently. We never really have a problem with high volumes of traffic.

    • the358 says

      Agree with everything you said. The only thing that seems to cause “backups” on 125th is when people are turning left and you get stuck behind them, so I think the left turn lane is going to improve traffic flow. I don’t bike either, so I don’t care if they put in a bike lane or not, but the left turn lane is a definite plus. I am surprised more car people can’t see the potential for this improving the traffic flow (and as a bus rider, I think improved traffic flow is a plus for me).

      Making this one into a bus-vs-bike-vs-pedestrians thing is just silly. It’s a win for everyone. I don’t know about the other ones because I’m never on Nickerson and rarely on Stone Way, but seriously, this is not one to get up in arms about.

  14. Mickymse says

    I don’t object to the concept of “road diets.”

    What I worry about is the current trend — and stated goals of some groups — to make it easier to walk, bike, or take transit to the deficit of driving.

    I’m a big advocate of alternative forms of transportation and well-designed walking neighborhoods, BUT I also believe that some roadways should be geared towards quickly moving people and goods from one point to another.

    In West Seattle, for example, I think the rechannelization of Fauntleroy Way was a terrible decision. This roadway serves as a rapid transportation corridor across the neighborhood and is a key connection for high traffic volumes to/from the ferry dock. It doesn’t need to be friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s supposed to be an arterial.

    On the other hand, I think California Avenue is great as two lanes and a center turn lane. I’d actually spend money to further reduce travel speeds and beautify the street design. Why? Because it’s a major business and residential throughfare that should be encouraging pedestrian use and safe for all ages from children to seniors.

    Why can’t we have BOTH?

    • Brent says

      Funny that you bring this up. Lake City Way from 120th to 145th has already been put through the road diet experience, to create more local commerce. It appears to have worked. North of 145th, the sidewalks seem to disappear at some point, and roadside businesses disappear with them.

    • Al says

      I live right by Fauntleroy and walk, bike, motorcycle, drive that street all the time, it’s my main route in/out/around West Seattle. I’ve lived in that area for 8+ years now and used it before the reconfiguration via the same methods (walked, biked, motorcycled, driven).

      Hands down it’s better now. Vastly better. I can actually cross the street as a pedestrian at any intersection at any time of the day. I don’t have to wait until after “rush hour” to cross it, or walk down Morgan Street to get to the California intersection to use a signalized crossing. It’s fabulous. Cars will actually stop for pedestrians and I can use the turn lane as a safety pause now.

      I can cross the street any time of day now via bicycle – I don’t have to plan out my crossing 4 lanes of fast moving (40-45 mph traffic I regularly saw on the speed board they put out) traffic. I don’t ride on the sidewalk northbound at all any longer since there is a bike lane now. I do ride it sometimes in the afternoons to avoid particularly aggressive traffic southbound but I rarely have problems (but when I do they are not fun) in the Sharrow lane. Traffic is traveling about the speed limit now, sometimes even a little below it – the speed board is still out there.

      Via motorcycle and car – I am now able to travel the speed limit without being tail gated. It’s easy to see pedestrians and other road users, there is a new, much needed pedestrian crossing at Juneau and the bus stops there were upgraded. The street surface itself was upgraded. I can make left turns from the turn lane without worrying that someone will rear end me as I wait to make a turn. I am not in fear that someone will sideswipe me in the “s” curve (which SDOT reported was a problem on this street).

      Sure, traffic backs up on it sometimes, but it did before the change too. I have never seen (and I ride it every day) traffic backed up daily in any way along Fauntleroy. If traffic is backing up it’s usually due to an unusual factor; traffic accident, late ferry, bad weather, etc.

      It’s better for all users and the neighborhood as a whole. My neighbors seem to agree. My husband who is not a walker has even started walking more. I would say it’s delivering very, very well.

    • reality based commute says

      As a fellow West Seattle resident I couldn’t disagree more. Fauntleroy was a speedway with cars approaching 50 MPH on a city street passing a school and kids soccer fields.

      It is still an arterial and moves cars efficiently. Most people overwhelmingly support the change. And it is an important bike corridor because it is the only relatively flat way to go from north to south in West Seattle.

    • Mike Orr says

      Keep in mind that cars were overwhelmingly favored from the 1930s to the 1990s: infrastructure was built for cars and everything else was shortshrifted. In the 90s you started getting a compromise: road improvements would be built with pedestrian/transit/bicycle concessions. But there’s still all the existing infrastructure that was built just for the car. So if drivers now have to lose a few lanes here and there, it’s a small concession compared to the ton of infrastructure they (and only they) gained in the last seventy years.

  15. says

    A diet makes sense when someone is too fat.

    But Seattle is just the opposite. It doesn’t have enough roads. That’s the problem.

    East-West through North Seattle is impossible! There is no limited access arterial to take a person from I-5 to Ballard or Golden Gardens.

    So, what Seattle needs is more a like Road Steroids to pump up its highways system.

    Same for all of Western Washington.

    “Planners” (who should be fired) failed to build the infrastructure for a complex sprawled region.

    Now everyone is falling on each other to point the finger and used chestnuts like “cars are bad”.

    Someone needs to stop the stupidity in its tracks and then we can start to live in a state called “Reality”.

  16. Gary says

    Y’all got me hot and bothered. I’m grateful I can now ride my bike home. By the time I get there, this will all be a memory…

  17. TomK says

    Google Maps apparently has already put 125th on a road diet and downgraded from a street to a “lane”.

  18. says

    Here’s some fun (or morbid discussion, whatever you prefer) with numbers:

    Let’s calculate the lost time and money for drivers versus the expense of collisions and injuries using the data from the Stone Way report. Now admittedly, the Stone Way report lacks travel time information which certainly is critical information as noted by Norman and perhaps others. So instead let’s just use the reduction in mph at the 85th percentile level which was 3 mph (37mph to 34mph southbound).

    Stone Way from 45th to 34th is 0.9 miles. Thus this represents an increase in travel time of 7.7 seconds without taking into account intersection delay. Now that may not seem like a lot, but let’s remember that collectively about 14,000 vehicles used to travel daily on Stone Way. Therefore assuming every one of these drivers experienced that delay, on a yearly basis that is a per-capita delay of 47 minutes but 1.25 years collectively. For further comparison, let’s multiply those 1.25 years by the PSRC observed value of time which we’ll round up to $25 per hour giving us a total of $274,185.20.

    Collisions decreased from 159 (52 with injuries) between 2005-07 to 137 (35 with injuries) between 2007-09 (both were 28 month periods). So that’s about 10 less collisions or 8 less with injuries. Now the report doesn’t mention if there were any fatalities, so let’s assume nobody died (my sincere condolences if anybody did). I’m not going to dig into it, but people can use their imagination on what might happen in an injury in terms of lost time and also money.

    The point is, if these annual 10 collisions including those 8 with injuries caused more than 1.25 years of “wasted time” or a financial loss of more than $274,185.20 than the road diet was worth it.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      That means if a single life is saved in 40 years – ignoring all injuries – would make the road diet worth it (assuming a 30yr old that would have lived to 80).

      • Mickymse says

        Now, THIS is not only a great breakdown of some data, with a well-stated goal… but presents a good way for “selling” these projects to community groups and the press.

  19. JSH says

    I believe in the Seattle Trinity – Pedestrians have the right of way, Motorists must share the road with Bicyclists and Drivers must drive safely (and use their turn signals), but this NE 125th Street road diet project is a BAD IDEA.

    I live in the Lake City neighborhood and am very familiar with NE 125th.
    For the past year, I’ve traveled NE 125th four times a day between 7:30 AM & 5:30 PM. I do not recall EVER seeing a bicyclist going up or down the street nor have I seen many (any) pedestrians trying to cross 125th anywhere mid-hill, so I was dumbfounded to learn the the SDOT had picked this road to put on a “diet” to make it safer for pedestrians & bicyclists.

    What I do see are some speeders – people rolling down (east) on 125th at 40 MPH or so. I also often see the SPD waiting for the speeders at the bottom of the hill. The police are there so frequently that someone has spray-painted “Speed Trap” on the road at the top of the hill to alert drivers. The other thing I see – and try to avoid – are the potholes and gouged roadway that are still there after the snowstorm of 2008 (we’ve been waiting for the road repair crews for 2 years now).

    I agree that the speeders need to be curtailed, but trying to slow down traffic by making the road narrower and creating lanes for non-existent bicyclists (to the tune of $60,000) is a dumb idea. Use the money to fix the potholes, pay the SPD to stop speeders and maybe put in one of those “Your Speed Is…” signs that I see on other big hills in the city.

    As anyone who has lived in Seattle more than one day knows, effective east-west routes in this city are hard to come by. The fact that Mayor McSchwinn and the SDOT are planning to cripple one that flows smoothly to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist is astonishing.

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