What is a Road Diet? and Keep the US Moving Blog for February 12, 2020

By Shelia Dunn, NMA Communications Director

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/.

What is a Road Diet?

Lane reduction, road rechannelization or road diet is a way cities can reduce the width and/or the number of lanes on a street to accommodate bike lanes, express bus lanes and/or a middle left-hand turning lane. Typically a road diet consists of reducing a four lane street, down to two with narrower lanes to accommodate a bike lane on both sides and a dedicated left hand turning lane. Sometimes this also takes out parking on one or both sides as well. Traffic calming devices may also be part of the mix with pedestrian bulb-outs at intersections, raised bus lanes, speed humps, and mid-street crosswalks.

On streets and roads with more than 20,000 cars per day (arterial roads), this causes more car traffic congestion, more pollution, and the likelihood of already vulnerable or even thriving local businesses that depend on vehicle traffic closing down permanently. Due to driver frustration, this also can push traffic onto side streets which have never seen this kind of traffic. This can make neighborhood streets more dangerous in the long run. 

Because lanes are now restricted and sometimes even narrowed, emergency responders have a much tougher time to arrive at emergencies quickly. Vehicles can no longer pull over to the side of the road to allow EMTs, fire trucks, and police cars to pass. This results in more deaths, more fire damage, and more tragedy than needed. 

Even if a road diet has been placed on an arterial road or street, many cities realize that this configuration does not work for their community and decide to reverse the road diet. Unfortunately, this means tax payers pay for both the road diet and the reversal which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

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Road Diets, Traffic Calming, and Car-free Streets

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Hashtag: #KeeptheUSMoving, #Keep (insert your town, city, state here) Moving, #NORoadDietsonArterialStreets, and  #NOTrafficCalming

California

Colorado

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Massachusetts

New York

Complete Streets

Hashtag: #CompleteStreetsWatch and #WaronCarsWatch

Vision Zero

Hashtag: #VisionZeroWatch and #WaronCarsWatch

California

Connecticut

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 Illinois

North Carolina

New York

Washington State

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 in order 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/.

Check out the video presentations from the October 5th Keep LA Moving Conference:

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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