Wiping Out While Riding the Wave of “Smart Growth”

alerts : motorists – excerpt
Editor’s Note: In a recent e-newsletter we discussed how planners want to remake the urban landscape to discourage automobile travel. But as often happens with such schemes, the law of unintended consequences comes to bear. This is what happened in in Long Beach, California, as described in this first-hand account by a California NMA member.

So-called Smart Growth has already become a reality in my former home, Long Beach, California. For the first six or seven years I lived there, traffic flow through the city was amazing. With freeway access at the east and west ends of the city, and the development oriented along the east-west shoreline, the city had set up alternating one-way streets through downtown. You could get off the freeway even during commute hours and, if you happened to land on the right timing, never have to stop, riding the wave of timed lights all the way across downtown.

If you hit a red light, it would be the first one, but you would then ride that same wave all the way through. You would see the beauty of lights turning green ahead of you, progressing not at the speed limit, but at the higher, yet still cautious and prudent speed that most people actually wanted to drive. It was wondrously efficient, both in time and also fuel- and emissions-minimizing vehicle operation. It turned out that this operation depended on having three one-way lanes on each street.

Then the hippies and totalitarians got together “for the good of mankind.” They reduced the two streets configured this way, which connected the prime business areas with the freeway, to two lanes each, to make room for a dedicated bike lane separated from the car lanes by a wide empty space. This eliminated the ability of the roadway to accommodate any sort of obstruction. Somebody has to slow or stop to make a turn? Commercial vehicle unloading inventory in front of a store?… (more)

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