Letter | ‘Road diet’ changes mean more problems on roads
May 21, 2012 · 3:31 PM
Like many other Islanders who live south of 40th Street, I was relieved when, amid budget concerns, the ‘road diet’ scheme that would slash Island Crest Way to half its current capacity appeared to have died quietly last year.
I was therefore very disappointed when, in last week’s Reporter, it was noted that this plan was not only back on the agenda, but that the MI City Council is prepared to award a contract for the destruction of our primary north-south corridor on May 21, with disruptions actually beginning as soon as this summer.
To claim that reducing Island Crest to one lane in each direction will cause anything short of a traffic nightmare is utter nonsense. One need only watch the morass that exists south of 53rd Place to see what the future really holds: a constant and unbroken wall of cars grinding along at the pace of the slowest vehicle in a three-mile stretch, with still more lines of hapless drivers on side streets waiting for what seems like an eternity for their fleeting chance to dash into the column. Yes, there may be a few folks who choose to ride bicycles on the newly created bike lanes instead of driving, but we all know that this number will be small and will drop to near zero on those rainy days we occasionally see in our area.
And what about the bikers, anyway? Will they really benefit from this change, as suggested as one excuse for the plan? The vast majority of bicyclists on the Island are not commuters, but hobbyists who will continue to choose the scenic roads of East and West Mercer Way; even those who do commute by bicycle will likely continue to use these perimeter roads to avoid the long climb up to Island Crest on the stretch between the east/west bridges and 40th that does not (and will not) have protected bike lanes. The narrow, dark, winding Mercer Ways will no doubt see significant increases in car traffic as drivers detour away from Island Crest. I foresee an increase — not a drop — in conflicts betweens bikes and cars, and, unfortunately, in biker injuries, if this ill-conceived social experiment goes forward.
It was clear from the many letters printed in the Reporter in the past that many of us are opposed to this plan. I therefore call on the City Council to put the matter to a public vote. This issue is too costly and too far-reaching in its impact to be decided by a small handful of people, many of whom live outside of the area that will be impacted.