The road diet battles in Seattle have a tendency to get nasty, and they are far from over. Even though the Federal Highway Administration has officially (finally) named the road diet as a “proven safety countermeasure,” the projects can be controversial regardless of past successes or engineering analyses.
But while we argue over every mile of proposed road diet, Walking in Seattle ran through pedestrian fatality data and found that of the 101 pedestrians who died between 2001 and 2009, 28 people died on over-designed Seattle roads that seem (at least at first glance) to be potential candidates for road diets:
“What’s a candidate for a road diet?” you ask. Well — depending on the road of course — most roads can carry up to 25,000 vehicles per day with a three-lane configuration before people start to see significant delays. Current four-lane roads with traffic below 20,000 vehicles per day will likely see no real delays (minimal vehicle time increases are often due to reduced speeding, which is the desired effect). Beyond 20,000, they can still work, especially if other improvements are made along the street to make things flow more smoothly. Plus, small delays in travel times are worth saving lives and preventing serious injury.