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Traffic calming’s a good thing

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Aug. 11, 2009 at 7:26 pm with 3 Comments »
August 11, 2009 7:26 pm

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.


Bike lanes are key element in ‘Complete Streets’


Some drivers were not amused when a short stretch of North 21st Street in Tacoma recently went from two lanes to one to accommodate new bike lanes.


Chances are, many of the critics use the North 21st arterial to quickly get from one end of town to the other and resent "calming" strategies that add a little time to their commute. But those strategies are the very things the people who actually live in the neighborhood tend to like because they slow down traffic and make it safer to walk or bicycle.


Building bike lanes, curb extensions, medians, sidewalks or wide paved shoulders are part of the "Complete Streets" program that Tacoma leaders have bought into, which means that more city roads will be reconfigured in coming years to enhance access to pedestrians, cyclists and transit users as well as motorists.


For instance, within the next several weeks, bike lanes will be added to South 12th Street between Sprague and Union avenues. To accommodate the change, the eastbound two lanes will go down to one lane.


Critics of such changes often ask why capacity should be taken from motorized users and given to bike lanes when there aren’t that many bicyclists. One reason is that cyclists may be avoiding a particular street because it’s so dangerous. Build bike lanes and more people likely will be willing to venture out and use them, perhaps even switching from cars to bikes for at least some of their transportation needs.


From a quality-of-life perspective, making that choice available is important. Fewer cars means less pollution. More people riding bikes means healthier residents. Little wonder that the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is a key supporter of the Complete Streets concept.


Traffic-calming measures like adding bike lanes may mean that motorists have to drive a little slower than they’ve been accustomed to. If making city streets safer means adding a little time to the daily commute, that is a price drivers should be willing to pay.

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Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. pugetsnd says:

    Amen!

  2. jimkingjr says:

    And just how many bikes will be making use of these lanes? We slow down thousands of cars, to help a handful of bikes. It does NOT make sense.

  3. For the 2d time in history, I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. JimKingjr.
    On the same intersection (21st/Proctor) there are ADA sidewalk adhancements. A nice touch seeing as how there is no sidewalk there to connect it to.
    Bike lanes and ADA enhancements on a corner where there is no sidewalk.
    One could call this putting the cart before the horse. I call it convoluted thinking cohesively functioning in sync in order to erect a conundrum.The residents on North 21st Street have been promised sidewalks from Pear to Downtown since they first moved into the new development in 1940’s. You build a place for bikes to ride (when they already have a place) and the pedestrians continue to walk in the mud and get splashed by gutter water.
    Two staff members from the roads dept, spoke negatively about it. One went so far to say that taking a lane away from a well established street is “just plain stupid” He asked me not to print his name. I will keep my promise.
    Priorities, Tacoma. It’s about priorities!

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