Road Diet on Nickerson Reduced Speeds, Collisions

By Erica C. Barnett March 1, 2012

A new report from the city's Department of Transportation concludes that the controversial "road diet" (in which, in most cases, a four-lane road is reduced to two travel lanes for cars, plus bike lanes or sharrows and a turning lane) on Nickerson St. has worked to reduce collisions, reduce the number of speeding drivers, and reducing the number of people driving more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit---all while keeping traffic volumes on Nickerson "roughly the same."

Specifically, the percentage of drivers who sped on Nickerson decreased 64 percent in westbound lanes ad 63 percent in eastbound lanes, and the percentage of drivers going more than 10 mph over the speed limit decreased 92 percent westbound and 96 percent esatbound. The number of overall collisions (that is, not broken out by type of collision or whether they involved bicyclists or pedestrians) went down 23 percent, and the overall traffic on Nickerson actually declined one percent over the course of an verage weekday.

Given that road diets have been controversial in the past, I asked McGinn this afternoon, does he expect these latest results to persuade road-diet skeptics? Or will this latest announcement be seen as just another pro-bike push from the city's pro-biking mayor?

"I would say that this was a public safety announcement," McGinn said. "You have to remember that Nickerson was done because... it was a public safety hazard," with no signals at crosswalks and four fast-moving lanes of traffic. "The perception was that it was done for the bicycles, but the driving factor was pedestrian safety."

The city has been installing road diets since the 1970s; the last study of a road diet, an equally controversial installation on Stone Way, found similar safety and traffic results.
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