“Complete Streets” are all the rage in municipal planning these days:
Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.
Complete Streets are particularly prudent when more communities are tightening their budgets and looking to ensure long-term benefits from investments. An existing transportation budget can incorporate Complete Streets projects with little to no additional funding, accomplished through re-prioritizing projects and allocating funds to projects that improve overall mobility.
The City of Waterloo turned the four lane Davenport Road into a two lane complete street a couple of years ago. They must have missed the note about little to no additional funding because they spent about $4 million of federal stimulus money on it.
The road is now often jammed as cars wait behind buses, unable to pass. Rarely is a bicycle to be seen in the bike lanes.
When it as being done, and when I now use the road, I get the feeling that the real goal was to make it painful for drivers. Of course this is never explicitly stated, but why else would you build a two lane complete street that is bounded by two four lane roads?
Then I read the article Get on the Bus by Matthew Yglesias in today’s National Post:
Of course the problem is people who drive cars won’t like it — the exact same reason that shiny new streetcar lines are often built to drive in mixed traffic. But public officials contemplating mass transit issues need to ask themselves what it is they’re trying to accomplish. If promoting more transit use, denser urban areas, and less air pollution is on the agenda, then annoying car drivers is a feature, not a bug.
It seems that I wasn’t all that far off in my thinking.