Like thousands of local citizens that do not live or work on these streets, I frequently drive on them and am interested in how traffic is managed. Speed tables and lower speed limits have been implemented, the remaining debate is if making them one-way traffic is marginally useful to reduce speeding, or if it in fact could make speeding worse (it does).

Traffic calming strategies include NARROWING the streets — making a two-lane road into one-way WIDENS the street for a driver. One-way traffic is rarely, if ever, mentioned as a traffic calming measure.

Some quotes from my research: “One-way streets correlate to reduced driver attention and also allow higher speeds.” “Two-way streets prove safer, more walkable, and more supportive of business.”

This makes common sense — on a one-way, two-lane street you can pass another driver, and you rarely have to wait for another driver to make a turn (by moving to the other lane).

The trade-offs between one or two-way traffic in broad terms are higher capacity but with higher speeds vs increased safety and accessibility.

For 20 years I have lived on Church Street, a very high traffic road with speeds frequently above the posted 35 MPH limit. The decision made decades ago to make Church and Cherokee Streets one-way still seems necessary to get desired volume throughput. About 10 years ago two median islands were added on Church Street as passive “traffic calming” devices (too much traffic to permit speed tables).

The Lawrence/Washington area is different – with less traffic volume speed tables are permitted. And if drivers still want to speed having traffic one-way will not slow them down if the street is one-lane or two.

To give everyone what they want (speed reduction, higher safety, better circulation), the city council should reverse last year’s decision in order to keep these streets two-way.

Steve Imler



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