Option B Is Best For Frazier Avenue

  • Friday, March 1, 2024

I attended Councilwoman Jenny Hill's public meeting on the evening of February 29 to hear her and members of the City's planning department outline a couple of options for redesigning Frazier Avenue. This work was prompted by the unfortunate and terrifying killing of two pedestrians at the intersection of Frazier and Forest last year, which not only cost two innocent people their lives but destroyed a local small business. 

Councilwoman Hill and many members of Mayor Kelly's administration deserve our thanks for their thoughtfulness and hard work over the last several months. This is not an easy task and one that we must get right; as Councilwoman Hill rightly pointed out, the way we handle Frazier Avenue right now has implications for how streets all across our city can be redesigned to keep people safe and keep our local businesses strong. 

To that point, of the two options that were presented at the February 29 meeting, Option B is by far the superior choice, for motorists, businesses, pedestrians, and cyclists. By allowing bicycles and other "micro-mobility" users to travel in their own dedicated and separated lanes, they are far less likely to end up in collisions with fast-moving cars. Cars, similarly, will not have to fight for precious lane space with bicycles moving at a more cautious rate of speed. The impact on street parking will be negligible -- particularly since the Coolidge Park lots and side streets are seldom full -- while the protection offered to everyone on the street will be improved by orders of magnitude. 

Option A, by contrast, is largely defined by using "sharrows," an ineffective half-measure that puts bicycles and cars in the same lane. As CityLab wrote in 2016, "...[F]ar from giving cyclists a safer ride, or even doing nothing at all, sharrows might actually be doing some harm by tugging bikes into moving traffic...[O]nly one study to date looked at whether or not sharrows had any impact on overall car-bike collisions—and that study found they could be increasing the risk of injury."

Frazier Avenue is one of our community's most beloved and popular destinations. When renovations to the Walnut Street Bridge are complete in a few years, the number of children and families on foot and on bikes coming onto the street will only increase. Putting these people in direct and dangerous conflict with cars is a recipe for more unfortunate accidents. Why would we do this when another, better option for cars, businesses, and people is clearly available?

The data is clear; so is common sense. For Frazier's future, Option B is best for everyone.  

Kerry Hayes
Chattanooga, TN

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