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Wednesday March 29th 2017

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What’s Right about Right-sizing


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Wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple way for Boulder to:

  • reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions;
  • support local businesses;
  • strengthen social bonds in the community;
  • reduce living costs for the most needy;
  • improve human health;
  • and reduce air and noise pollution?

3-lane north Broadway

We’re in luck: there is. Encouraging biking and walking does all these things, and more. Biking and walking are clean, healthy, and free (or nearly so). People who shop by bike or foot spend more at local businesses than people who shop by car. And people biking or walking have more social interaction, and more positive social interaction, than people driving.

The city’s proposal to right-size portions of four streets (Iris, Folsom, 55th, and 63rd) will encourage biking and walking by calming traffic, providing ample bike lanes, and giving more space between cars and sidewalks.  Though it’s somewhat counter-intuitive, it will do this with little or no delay to cars—because most motor vehicle delay happens at intersections or when vehicles are turning. The proposed right-sizing would leave intersections largely unchanged and would actually make some turning movements more efficient.

All of the street segments in question were designed during the post-war heyday of the automobile, when traffic engineers and city planners made it their first priority to move more cars faster. The unexpected consequences were more pollution, more car crashes, urban sprawl, and—ironically—more traffic congestion. In hindsight we can now see that a still earlier model made for a better, healthier, and stronger city. Before the dominance of the car, it was common to walk to the store, bicycle to a friend’s house, or take a streetcar to work. Street right-sizing is another small step toward restoring that people-centric model.

City Council will be considering the proposed street right-sizing at a special meeting on Monday, June 15 at 6pm.

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One Response to “What’s Right about Right-sizing”

  1. Eric Stonebraker says:

    Good stuff, Kurt! Let’s not forget about the safety improvements for motorists. 20-50% reduction in vehicle crashes have been reported from other similar efforts.

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