War on Cars Watch for November 15, 2018

Welcome to the War on Cars Watch, a weekly blog to bring together all the stories that affect motorists with regards to street planning such as road diets, and traffic calming as well as programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets.

This blog will give you highlights of the week’s stories and commentary from our NMA Foundation Executive Director James C. Walker and California NMA Member Michael Jabbra. Please read this blog and let us know what you think by commenting below!

**Editor’s Note—There will be no War on Cars Watch for November 22, 2018 due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.**

National

New traffic calming device implementation for either discouraging left turns or making them harder for motorists to execute: wedgies and center line bollards.

California

In San Francisco, the city has approved a parking-protected bike lane near 4th and King (CalTran Station).

More road diet news in Santa Monica: The city has installed in-the-street E-Scooter Parking Corrals (Got to see the unbelievable photo).

Connecticut

Looks like the governor-elect and lawmakers want to follow the lead of Rhode Island by bringing toll roads for trucks only.  The state is the only state in New England that currently does not have any toll roads.

Georgia

Savannah city council approved green bike lanes after a pilot program. The city is now spending over $221,000 to install a six foot bicycle lane using a thermoplastic green material and fix the lane’s cracks and potholes along Lincoln between Victory Drive and Liberty Street. No word on how this impacts the car traffic in this area.

Illinois

Active Trans published a report last week calling for a road diet, protected bike lanes and new pedestrian friendly facilities along Logan Boulevard in Chicago.  After a 10-month study, the report noted that the Boulevard averages roughly 8,900 motor vehicle trips below the threshold for implementing a road diet of bringing the four lane street down to two with a left turn lane. The group also wants added traffic calming measures such as speed bumps, sidewalk extensions and pedestrian islands.

Louisiana

The New Orleans city council is suspect over a new parking ticket scheme that will help pay for a cut to the Department of Public Works.

North Carolina

Under the Vision Zero program, the city of Greensboro is working to reduce crashes at dangerous intersections.  (Shouldn’t they be doing that anyway? Why do they need Vision Zero to make this happen?)

New York

Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue protected bike lane and road diet has been very delayed. The reason: MTA’s work on the R train beneath Fourth Avenue. The road diet project is now not expected to be completed until sometime in 2020.

Oregon

One of Portland’s newly elected city commissioners sees a car free future with fareless and fast transit in her city. Despite this utopic proclamation, Jo Ann Hardesty does have some interesting things to say about transportation in her city.

Texas

In Austin, Vision Zero Texas supporters will be hosting a summit this weekend. Ahead of the summit, officials say they will be pushing at least three bills in the upcoming legislative session:

  • A bill to change residential speed limits to 25 mph and give cities more leeway to make certain streets 20 mph if needed.
  • Another bill that would implement a statewide distracted driving or hands-free (from phones and other electronic devices) driving a statewide requirement.
  • A third bill would push further the current yield-to-pedestrian policy in Texas by asking drivers to actually stop for all pedestrians.
  • They are also working on Travis County to implement a Vision Zero policy. The city of Austin already has one.

International

Germany

A German court has ruled that the cities of Cologne and Bonn must impose limited diesel bans due to vehicle emissions.

The Netherlands

Amsterdam wants to increase parking fees as a way to discourage drivers.

Spain

Under a new law, Spain may soon ban the sale of diesel and gasoline powered cars.

Commentary from NMA Foundation Executive Director James C. Walker

Protected left turns with a dedicated cycle are MUCH safer for both car drivers and pedestrians.Road diets and other traffic calming measures create congestions and problems for commuters, shoppers, visitors, tourists. and commercial traffic that can easily have negative effects on commerce overall. The car haters driving some of these attempts to strangle vital vehicle flows simply don’t care about the negative effects. Our job at the NMA is to get the authorities to really care.

Indiana raised tolls for trucks on the Indiana Turnpike. This has driven a serious portion of the traffic onto the roughly parallel main US and State highways. The problem with this change is the crash rate on regular highways is two to four times higher than on limited access freeways. Indiana’s greed will literally cause more crashes, injuries and potentially more fatalities.

Texas will likely discover that lowering speed limits on residential streets to 25 mph will lower the actual travel speeds by a massive amount at or very close to 0.0 mph. These changes tend to create more speed traps, not more safety.

Europe is ahead of the USA in allowing car-haters to drive the anti-car jihad. It is unfortunate that realists who understand the role of freedom of car travel provides to commerce.

James C. Walker is a life member of the National Motorists Association. He is also a board member and executive director of the National Motorists Association Foundation.

Commentary from NMA California Member Michael Jabbra

Re Santa Monica: This is the first time I’ve heard about this. I don’t much like taking away street space for corrals for the e-scooters, but the sidewalks are for pedestrians, and having people litter those e-scooters everywhere is hazardous to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

Re Portland: Commissioner Hardesty has a point about buses and mass transit: It takes too long to get anywhere. This is an even bigger problem in Los Angeles. I don’t think that car-free for everyone is ever going to be realizable, but there’s nothing wrong with cities providing better bus and rail systems. Hint for NMA die-hards: The more people who take the bus or the train, the less people who are congesting the roads when we want to drive.

Re New Orleans: How typical of cities to collect money by jacking up parking and moving violation fees. There obviously needs to be some enforcement (I have been to countries where there is no traffic or parking enforcement – this is bad, not good), but there’s always the temptation to have more laws that pretend to be about “safety” but are really gotcha ways to get cash.  This creates contempt for government and law enforcement.  It shouldn’t be this way.

The real problem in major cities is too many people crammed into a small area.

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