Publicola: Health Dept Director supports NE 125th changes

NE 125th at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Photo by Chris Rule.

Publicola reports that David Fleming, the Seattle/King County health department director has sent a letter to the mayor in support of SDOT’s proposed road diet for NE 125th St:

In a letter to the city council and Mayor Mike McGinn yesterday, Seattle/King County health department director David Fleming came out in support of a controversial proposed “road diet” on NE 125th Street in Lake City. Under the proposal, 125th would be converted from four car lanes to three, with a bike lane on each side of the street.

In his letter, Fleming noted that adding turn lanes generally “improves road safety, prevents injuries caused by crashes, and improves the health and quality of life of roadway users and neighborhood residents.” A similar project on Stone Way in Wallingford, Fleming noted, reduced crashes by 14 percent, crash injuries by 33 percent, and collisions with pedestrians by 80 percent.

Additionally, improving access to bikes and pedestrians encourages people to get out of their cars and lead more active, healthier lives, Fleming said. “Residents of cities and states with a higher percentage of trips and commutes by walking or cycling are more likely to get the recommended amont of daily physical activity. These cities and states also have lower rates of obesity and diabetes.”

These arguments must sound familiar by this point. We have yet to see a single piece of evidence of any kind supporting claims that the changes would create gridlock, other than people saying, “It’s obvious removing car lanes will cause more traffic.” It may, in fact, seem obvious, but professional studies and decades of experience have proven otherwise.

Meanwhile, Cascade’s Chris Rule was on NE 125th at 5:30 p.m. yesterday (a Tuesday) and took this photo (sent via Twitter). One thing regular drivers on the road may not be aware of is how much time there is between waves of cars. A light turns green, and all the queued cars rush forward in one seemingly-congested bunch. The road diet would prevent that bunched crowd, creating a more orderly line instead.

To watch a good StreetFilms video explaining the benefits of road diets, check out yesterday’s news roundup.

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