North by Northwest View 16: Quit With the “Road Diets”…

Yeah, those silly “road diets”.  According to WikiPedia, road diets are:

A road diet, also called a lane reduction or road rechannelization, is a technique in transportation planning whereby the number of travel lanes and/or effective width of the road is reduced in order to achieve systemic improvements.

Actually road diets are Beyond Stupid.  Just as much as putting more lanes on I-5… Recently the Washington Policy Center’s Bob Pishue punded away:

As Sound Transit officials prepare to take over the center lanes of I-90, their newest online advertisement asks the question, “What’s to do when we’re running out of roads?”(Their edited clip was originally from a video promoting highway building.) Unsurprisingly, their answer is to build light rail.

Yet they completely ignore the fact that public officials have continually pushed to make the public “run out” of roads. State officials are reducing the six-lane viaduct to a four-lane tunnel, guaranteeing traffic snarls around Seattle. Sound Transit is taking away the center lanes of I-90 for light rail, which the State Department of Transportation estimates will increase traffic congestion despite restriping the outer lanes. Seattle’s leaders have added to gridlock by handing over roads around the city to streetcars, transit, and bike paths. Instead of providing more general purpose access on the new SR-520 Bridge for the traveling public, state lawmakers opted instead for a new bike path and HOV/transit lanes.

Getting around is already tough out there, but it gets even tougher when public officials take away road access then say we are “running out” of capacity.

According to the aforementioned WikiPedia article, road dieting also is a problem for buses:

Road diets can negatively affect the speed and reliability of transit service operating on the roadway, particularly if bus stops are located in pullouts and traffic queues delay buses attempting to re-enter traffic. Constructing bus bulbs can mitigate these effects though this feature results in delays for other vehicles.

So what do we do?  Well then:

  1. New road lanes have limited effectiveness
  2. Use better the roads we have – and if road dieting is about safety, then reduce the speed limit
  3. Never forget real congestion relief is mass transit
  4. Require new facilities like museums & airport terminals have baked in transit structural & scheduled capability.