City Hall

Cascade Encourages Members to Send Rasmussen Tums for Nickerson "Indigestion"

By Erica C. Barnett May 28, 2010

In a story in the Seattle Times earlier this week,  City Council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen said that the idea of putting four-lane Nickerson Street on a road diet—reducing it to two travel lanes and one turning lane to improve the road for bikes and pedestrians—gave him "indigestion." In response, Cascade Bicycle Club, which supports the road diet, is encouraging its members to send Rasmussen rolls of Tums. (Tums for Tom, get it?)

Rasmussen has said that the city council might pass a budget proviso withholding money for the road diet, pass a recommendation against the plan, or eventually repeal the road diet if it slows traffic.

In a blog post, Cascade policy director David Hiller wrote that Rasmussen
is parroting those individuals who are trying to delay it until 2016 – after two-way Mercer and the Viaduct are completed – so the road could carry detoured traffic. That might be a valid argument – except for two very important points.

First, is that a three-lane roadway carries the same volume of traffic as a four-lane roadway in urban environments – so they’re preserving exactly ZERO additional capacity.

Second, as Transportation Chair, Rasmussen has seen all of the modeling and analysis showing the construction will have LITTLE TO NO IMPACT on the roadway, adding only 50 vehicles per hour at peak.

I asked Rasmussen yesterday why he didn't support Nickerson, given that studies (and anecdotal accounts) have shown that road diets actually improve traffic flow, safety, and access for cyclists and pedestrians. He said he was impressed by the fact that both the 36th District Democrats and the 36th District Republicans oppose the road diet.

And, Rasmussen said, Nickerson is different from other roads that have been reduced to three lanes (like Fauntleroy in West Seattle), in that it's "one of the few east-west routes that will exist during time the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement is going to be underway. ... Each roadway is very different. The traffic they serve, the purposes they serve, are very different."

The transportation committee will get a briefing from the city's department of transportation on the Nickerson proposal on June 8.
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