Clearly I didn’t get a chance to watch the City Council meeting last night, so instead I want to ramp up in preparation for the big Central Avenue meeting that will happen later on this month. At the end of the year last City Lab had a piece on debunked traffic myths that still didn’t die off by the end of 2015. I imagine that we’ll see a lot of these offered up by opponents of doing anything on Central Avenue that will have the perception of taking away something from cars.
One of the arguments will definitely be that bike lanes will make traffic congestion worse. From City Lab:
Bike lanes are all too often the punching bags of the transport planning world, and in 2015 they once again took all sorts of shots from local residents, retailers, and religious groups alike. One mainstay anti-bike argument holds that converting general road space into a bike lane is bad for traffic.
But to respond in rhyme: when good design’s in place, that’s just not the case. New York City proved as much with bike lanes recently installed on Columbus and Eighth avenues. By reducing the width of car lanes from 12 to 10 feet and adding protected left turns, the city was able to preserve vehicle volume and actually reduce travel times by 35 and 14 percent, respectively.
Then someone will, naturally, claim that narrower roads are somehow less safe (we’ve heard this one about Shoreline).
Speaking of 12-foot lanes versus 10-foot lanes, the common perception holds that the wider option is a safer design, since it gives drivers a bit more room to maneuver. But what some new research published in 2015 showed quite clearly was that wider lanes also invite cars to drive faster—erasing whatever safety benefits might be gained by additional space, and actually leading to more dangerous streets.
An evaluation of intersections in Toronto and Tokyo found lower crash rates in lanes that were closer to 10 feet, compared with those that were wider than 12 feet. “Given the empirical evidence that favours ‘narrower is safer’, the ‘wider is safer’ approach based on intuition should be discarded once and for all,” wrote the researcher who conducted the study. Oh, and the 10-foot lanes still moved plenty of traffic.