|From the article.|
Many of us persist in thinking that in the case of New Albany, smaller size implies greater adaptability. We’d have an easier time combining projects and funds to create critical mass in pursuit of a shared vision.
So much for that. These different funding pots are fiefdoms, politicians are terrified of altering the devil it knows (soul-numbing auto-centrism), and City Hall’s vision … well, you know.
It isn’t, so although we might, we don’t.
The “revised” layout includes a dedicated turning lane to prevent congestion. The resulting configuration slows traffic speeds with narrower driving lanes. There’s space for bikes. Parking lanes are right-sized—not nine feet wide but seven feet, with a two-foot buffer zone. With everything compartmentalized just so, traffic moves more efficiently, even with one less driving lane.
And what’s maybe less obvious is that this road is safer for pedestrians too: slower, more predictable traffic movements make it easier and safer to cross the street.
That “revised” street section is called a road diet. Among traffic engineers and city planners, the safety benefits of such a street design are well-known and well-understood. The debate over their usefulness is over and their benefits are clear.
How about more like this in Louisville?
So why doesn’t Louisville have more of these road diet configurations? One of Louisville’s public works employees told me he has a list of twenty or so city roads he’d like to see get a road diet. And yet in Louisville, we have no dedicated funding source for projects like this.
In the city budgets of the last three years, there has been funding for sidewalk improvements, for bike lanes, and for road repaving—all the ingredients needed for a complete street. But all that money is in separate pots, all going to separate projects. We’ve got the ingredients we need, but no recipe to follow to make a better street. We don’t provide any funding for the holistic approaches that make the street safer for everyone. This needs to change.