Tucson streets go on a diet - Tucson News Now

Tucson streets go on a diet

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It's becoming more apparent that Tucson's streets and roads are not just for cars anymore.

Roads are meant to be shared by bicycles, pedestrians, the streetcar, buses and of course, cars and trucks.

How to get all those on the roads moving in the same direction without killing each other is a big chore.

One way is to put them on a diet.

A road diet, as it's called, takes a street and transforms it into something that can be shared.

For instance, the four lane 6th Street between Campbell and Country Club.

There's no turn lane, no bike lanes and a heart thumping short distance between cars going in the opposite direction at 40 mph.

A road diet would turn the road into two lanes going in opposite directions, add a turn lane and likely bike lanes on each side.

Traffic may move more smoothly but it's hard to say it would be slower.

Speeds may drop but there would be no stopping because someone was making a left turn.

Cars wouldn't have to slow for bicycles taking up space in the left lane.

"It's all about being safe," says Ian Johnson, Chair of the Bike Advisory Committee.

But not just for bikes.

"There's an enormously high rate of walking in that neighborhood," he says.

And he sites a couple of National Transportation Department stats which say at 40 mph, 80% of the pedestrians hit die. At 20 mph, it's 10%.

Nearly half the people in the Rincon Neighborhood walk to work, generally to the University.

"Yet when they get to 6th Street they're faced with five lanes to cross," he says.

A road diet would change that.

"If they were only crossing three lanes, a turn lane and two traffic lanes, it would be safer," he says.

Tucson has already had a road diet experience on Granada and as little as it was publicized and how little traffic it impacted, there was still pushback.

"Generally, the push back was based on fear of increased congestion," he says. "Although studies show there is very little impact and they are outweighed by the safety impacts."

The question now is whether the public will accept a larger, more visible diet.

"I'm absolutely in favor of looking at the numbers," says Ward VI city council member Steve Kozachik. "But the data have to bear out the numbers."

Kozachik is concerned about Euclid to Campbell on Sixth.

It passes through the University, home to 40,000 students, and right in front of Arizona stadium.

It's a recipe for gridlock he believes during events at McKale and the stadium.

He says he wants the city transportation department to do a study prior to any decisions being made.

He wants to insure that "that is a particular segment where the diet is needed."

"I'm not convinced of that yet," he says.

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