I would like to thank the City Council for listening to citizen concerns last week and acting quickly to improve safety on Frazier Avenue. The turnaround time on the reconfiguration plan was impressive. However, the rollout of this plan sends mixed messages.
The proposed reconfiguration pushes traffic into the outermost lanes, closest to pedestrians on the sidewalk. On the north side, where the tragedy took place, there is still no protection for pedestrians other than a handful of small trees and light poles. This northernmost lane could be repurposed as street parking to benefit the businesses on that side of the street and, more importantly, protect pedestrians.
Furthermore, the press release said that “The temporary traffic pattern will give city engineers the ability to collect data to inform a permanent reconfiguration of Frazier Avenue.” But the new traffic
pattern will only be in place on Saturdays and Sundays. If this quick-build test is truly supposed to inform the possibility of a permanent reconfiguration, wouldn’t CDOT want data on how it affects
commute times throughout the week? One could be forgiven then for assuming that this is only a symbolic gesture, attempting to placate public anger now while still maintaining the status quo in the long term. I sincerely hope this is not the case. Half measures and symbolic gestures will not keep families safe.
I have heard much skepticism about the efficacy of lane reductions, or “road diets”, invoking fears of congestion, and proposing that enforcement alone can solve problems of traffic safety. My experience is that CPD is overburdened and does not have the resources to enforce speed limits consistently. However road diets are proven to reduce speed, improve safety, and have little impact on congestion. The Federal Highway Administration has studied road diets extensively and has found a reduction for four lanes to three lanes reduces crashes from 19-47 percent. The FHWA has also found that congestion is not a significant issue for most road diets. (FHWA Road Diet Informational Guide).
So while this is a great first step, and I applaud the quick action and creativity the city has shown, I challenge the city to continue to work to improve this lane reconfiguration and expand it to every day of the week until the end of the year so that complete data can be collected to better inform permanent solutions.