Road Diets at the Street Level: NMA Keep the US Moving Blog for March 11, 2020

This blog is a collaboration between the National Motorists Association and the Keep the US Moving (KUSM) group written and curated by NMA Communications Director Shelia Dunn (with some guest authors as indicated).  The KUSM weekly blog focuses on road diets, traffic calming, and programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets. 

The NMA and the KUSM believe that it is important to include stories that oppose our viewpoint.  We try to indicate those as needed. 

We love to hear from you about the Keep the US Moving Blog. Please feel free to comment below the post and find additional resources to fight road diets below. If you are concerned about any of these issues in your local area, please contact the NMA, nma@motorists.org or connect with KUSM at KeepTheUSMoving@gmail.com and find additional information on their website at https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/.

Road Diets at the Street Level
By guest writer and co-founder of Keep the US Moving, Matthew Schneider

Something peculiar is happening in cities and towns across the United States. Road Diets and Complete Streets treatments are slowing emergencies, slowing business, inconveniencing motorists, causing neighbors to be enemies, and generally disrupting City Hall.

Gary Galles, Professor of Economics at Pepperdine University, explained in a recent interview on KFI-AM. “When you change policy, you can’t just change one incentive story. If you slow down cars on a road, you slow down emergency vehicles as well. There are approximately 350,000 sudden cardiac arrest cases each year in the United States that happen outside of hospitals. This effect by itself could dominate any savings in any pedestrian/bicycle lives saved.” Professor Galles, explained.

There are Vision Zero programs in scores of US cities, and virtually everywhere they are having impacts on emergency response times. The Uniformed Firefighters Association has noted delays and problems directly attributed to Vision Zero road redesigns in a story in the New York Post. Firefighters, paramedics, and police officers in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Seattle, Oakland, New York, Boston, and elsewhere have confirmed that lane reductions, particularly so-called “road diets,” have increased their response times dramatically.

Slowdowns in emergency response are not the only peculiar concern.  Businesses along proposed Vision Zero road redesigns from Kokomo, Indiana to West Roxbury, Massachusetts are concerned. This cause for concern is justified as business closures and slowdowns have been noted on dozens of different corridors at hundreds of locations across the country.

Road redesigns are causing tempers to flare in neighborhoods too. In Silver Lake, CA, when Rowena Avenue was put on a road diet, a significant amount of traffic diverted into the neighborhood side streets where neighbors captured motorists getting into heated arguments because of the unexpected congestion.

All of this activity is causing unwelcome angst in our communities, the growing skepticism of our public leaders, and an erosion of public trust. An Alexandria, Virginia Counselor Amy Jackson, said at a recent City Council meeting, “The Seminary Road Diet has caused what I believe to be an erosion of public confidence. Those who live on and around Seminary Road have “anxiety and fear” after the council made a decision that impacted the area in ways that were not intended.”

Across the nation, the story is identical.  I know this because versions of all these negative impacts have all been noted in the small city that I live in Waverly, Iowa (population 10,153).

WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THIS?

They say all traffic is local and now more than ever we need to pay attention to what is going on at the local level. I would encourage everyone to get involved in any way you can with your local government. Last year I ran for City Council and won to begin to fix these and other problems.

I am also networking with other elected officials from around the country.   If you are in a city with a Complete Streets or transportation problem, I want to hear from you. You can reach me at mschneider@ci.waverly.ia.us.

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Resources

Check out the NMA Facebook Page called the War on Cars Watch! If you are interested in joining the closed group, follow the directions on the page. If you would like to know more about the National Motorists Association, check out our website at motorists.org. Also, if you would like to contact the NMA with a question or a link to an article about this topic or have a video of a road diet in your neck of the woods, feel free to contact us via email at nma@motorists.org.

Keep the US Moving is a grassroots organization dedicated to publicizing the detrimental effects of arterials road diets. We connect people who want to share experiences and information to help their communities craft truly safer roads. KUSM has a very active and closed Facebook group. Connect with them at KeepTheUSMoving@gmail.com and find additional information on their website at https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/.

Here are a few NMA Blog Posts that might interest you:

Road Diets and Traffic Calming

Vision Zero and Complete Streets

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