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Nicole Brodeur supports NE 125th changes (but she thinks she doesn’t)

Nicole Brodeur at the Times agrees with the proposed changes to NE 125th, she just doesn’t realize it. She also doesn’t do her homework.

First, she spends several paragraphs in her Monday column suggesting that the plans are just “Mayor McSchwinn” pushing his pro-bike agenda, despite the fact that her own paper reported days ago that this project was ready to go before McGinn ever took office.

Then, she praises the bike lanes on Fauntleroy SW, but questions why they are being pushed on “already crowded” arterials like 125th:

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To be fair, bike lanes seem to be working on Fauntleroy Way Southwest and on Dexter Avenue North, where there is room for them. In the case of Dexter, cars can drop down to Westlake Avenue North if need be.

But I don’t understand why already-crowded arterials are being cut in half to make room for cyclists who have other options.

Well, in 2008, NE 125th had average daily traffic volumes of 16,200. Guess how many Fauntleroy Way SW had in the same survey. 17,300. That’s 1,100 vehicles more than NE 125th. And like she says, they “seem to be working.”

So, basically, Nicole has just undercut her entire argument and proven that her cries that the changes “may turn an east-west thoroughfare into a thorough crawl, sending more cars racing down side streets” are completely unresearched and, turns out, unfounded.

Then she drops these lines: “Why narrow it? The only thing people don’t question is the fact that too many people speed on that road. I don’t think forcing four busy lanes of traffic into two is really the way to slow things down.” *Palm to forehead*

That’s great that you don’t think that’s the way to do it. We’ve gathered that. However, we’ve also gathered that you don’t think that’s the way to do it because you didn’t bother to read anything about the project, including your own paper’s reporting, before making up your mind and writing a misinformative pile of illogical gibberish in our fair city’s only remaining major daily.

Some major ideas missing from her analysis:

  • Traffic calming is not about bikes, it’s about making roads safer for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and, indeed, motor vehicles.
  • The proposed road configuration can handle somewhere around 25,000 vehicles per day. NE 125th currently has about 9,000 cars less than that.
  • About 25 similar projects have been carried out in Seattle since the 70s, many on roads with higher vehicle traffic than NE 125th.
  • This study of a similar project on Stone Way, which has only slightly less traffic than NE 125th, shows that nearby streets did not see increased traffic and that traffic capacity was maintained and continues to flow.

For those of you who want to read about the project from sources that use things like “studies” and “logic”, here’s a list of articles and resources on the project:

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6 responses to “Nicole Brodeur supports NE 125th changes (but she thinks she doesn’t)”

  1. […] Times piece opposing the NE 125th Street safety project. Tom Fucoloro at the Seattle Bike Blog also takes issue with Brodeur’s […]

  2. Davey Oil

    Here here!
    I’d like to nominate Tom for mayor of bikeblogdom.

  3. The new lanes on Nickerson will be easier to navigate with a bus or other large commercial vehicles because they are wider. With the old narrow lanes, we frequently had to split the lanes since they are too narrow to comfortably drive a bus with cars in the adjacent lanes. I haven’t looked at each bus zone along Nickerson in detail but I didn’t see anything particularly abnormal or alarming when I rode my bike up and down both sides.

    I’ve spent a lot of time along Nickerson St (I went to SPU) and remember a lot of crashes under the old lane scheme. I’m crossing my fingers that the new lanes will be as successful as those on Stoneway apparently have been.

    1. Just to be clear, I’m pointing out one of the benefits of the re-channelization for 125th that is not specific to cyclists. The point being – these road diets are about safety for *all* users, not just cyclists. Sorry if that comment was a bit confusing.

  4. LakeCity Jay

    Can someone please explain to me how spending $60,000 on putting in bike lanes, that very few people will use on an 8% grade hill, will somehow magically prevent people from speeding? How is it providing the safety that seems to be at issue here. Once they get rid of the middle turn-lane, nobody will have any reason to slow down. How about a few extra stop signs? Seems like a much more affordable solution to me. The arguments on both sides are disengenous. This isn’t about bikes vs cars, this is about common sense and spending our tax dollars wisely. Once again, can someone please explain to me how installing bike lanes will prevent cars from speeding down 125th and make it a safer area for pedestrians? Nobody has answered that question in any of these posts. I’m pretty sure the pro-road diet side is avoiding answering this question because they don’t have an answer for it.

  5. Steve

    You’re right LakeCity Jay bike lanes won’t prevent speeding. Road diets aren’t about creating bike lanes or using bike lanes to magically lower speeds. They are about changing road designs to create safer driving conditions.

    Under the current configuration the speed most drivers feel comfortable at is 10-12 mph over the 30 mph posted speed limit. Changing the design of a road by reducing the number of lanes or the width of lanes lowers the speed that drivers feel comfortable driving on a road. Also with multiple lanes in the same traveling in the same direction, drivers tend to match the speed of cars in the adjacent lanes which has the effect of pushing overall speeds higher.

    The other safety benefit for cars, which is not speed related is that four lanes streets encourage sudden lane changes as cars pull around cars that are waiting in the left lane to make a left hand turn. Drivers turning left can also have problems seeing oncoming traffic in two lanes. If two drivers traveling in opposite directions are waiting to turn left, they can screen each other’s view of traffic in the right lane.

    Bike lanes are a side benefit . But if it will make you feel better the city could put a planting strip in, or give part of the right of way back to landowners along the street.

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