Saturday, March 11, 2017

"Anti-car transportation planning" in Seattle

Traffic backs up on 12th Avenue South in the International District and the arterials around a closed Interstate 5 through Seattle during the evening commute Monday, Feb. 27. A tanker truck carrying butane rolled over earlier in the day, causing a total shutdown of north and southbound lanes of I-5 through Seattle.  (Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times)
Seattle Times

From an editorial in The Seattle Times:

...Major incidents will keep happening, and their effects are worsened because Seattle eliminated numerous arterial lanes in recent years. This reduced capacity hurt on Monday.

Lanes were replaced with bicycle paths. The problem isn’t adding bike paths, it’s that the city did so by reducing general traffic capacity. This makes the street network less resilient and capable of handling surges — and more dependent on I-5.

Murray should consider the network’s brittleness as he prepares to reconfigure downtown streets. His One Center City plan will likely eliminate more general-purpose lanes, cutting arterial capacity adjacent to I-5. A potpourri of new bike lanes, streetcars and bus lanes are being considered on First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth avenues. Meanwhile the viaduct is being replaced with a smaller-capacity tunnel.

How will these changes affect traffic problems, especially when accidents occur? Monday’s gridlock highlighted the folly of Seattle’s utopian, anti-car transportation planning.

Despite extensive street reconfigurations, the share of trips taken by bicycle hasn’t grown. Yet the number of vehicles owned, drivers and miles driven continue to grow — as does congestion (emphasis added).

Seattle will always be a busy city with lots of traffic within and through its borders. So infrastructure planning should be based on overall need, not ideology and special-interest lobbying.

Policy should be guided by total capacity and demand, not cherry-picked statistics and wishful assumptions...

Rob's comment:
Sound familiar? This is the same thing San Francisco is doing, even though the number of trips by bicycle has actually decreased as the number of motor vehicles on our streets has increased.

And all those "improvements" to city streets haven't made them any safer even as they make city traffic worse than it has to be. Meanwhile the city is doubling down on the bike/anti-car foolishness: Pedaling Forward: A New Guide to Our Vision for a Bike-Friendly SF.

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Kevin Drum

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Calculated Risk

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