Monday, October 13, 2014

Thou shalt not speak ill of the bike lane

Not every bike lane is a good idea.  It should not be blasphemy to point this out.
One day before Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration presented a plan to reduce vehicular traffic along Baronne Street to one lane and to add a dedicated bike lane, the city’s chief traffic engineer said he didn’t think it was a good idea.

Allen Yrle, in at least two emails to his boss, Public Works Department Director Mark Jernigan, said he disagreed with a city-commissioned study that concluded the loss of a lane wouldn’t have a significant negative impact on traffic. Yrle recommended that the city keep two lanes of vehicular traffic on Baronne, a one-way street, and install a shared bike lane instead.

“The analyses done show unacceptable levels of service at the Poydras/Baronne and Howard/Baronne intersections with the proposed lane reduction,” Yrle wrote in an email dated Sept. 16.

Yrle did not speak at a community meeting at the Contemporary Arts Center where the plan was presented the next day, nor were his concerns directly expressed in a presentation delivered by the administration.
The street feeds a major expressway from the CBD.  Maybe you don't like the idea that people need to get on the expressway. But making them wait longer to do that isn't going to solve the problem. 

On the other hand, if you're more interested in adding "amenities" that accentuate the desirability of downtown living at a time when you're about to finish a new luxury condo development around the corner, then you might want to just paint the bike lane in regardless of the traffic realities.

Also.. once the civil service reform goes through, the mayor would be able to fire the traffic engineers who happen to disagree with a policy of infrastructure for PR and real estate's sake.   So that's nice too.

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