Stadium and Forum intersection improvements aid all travelers

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | 1:14 p.m. CDT; updated 2:01 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

It is misleading to characterize the proposed improvements to the intersection of Forum and Stadium boulevards as a conflict of interest between car drivers and other road users. I use this intersection frequently in all three modes — primarily as a driver or bicyclist, less often as a pedestrian. The proposed changes will be beneficial to all modes. It is obvious that bicyclists and pedestrians benefit from improved visibility to drivers and by allowing southbound bicyclists to cross Forum safely so that they can properly move with traffic.

But it also benefits me as a driver when my conflicts with other road users are reduced. The “Australian right-turn” lane design that benefits nonmotorized users of the intersection has been used elsewhere specifically to reduce rear-end collisions — regular events at the intersection of Forum and Stadium boulevards. And, as a driver, I sincerely do not want to hit a child crossing the street to get ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, or a bicyclist or wheelchair user leaving Schnucks.

Perhaps there will be a slight increase in driving time through the intersection. Surely we can all afford a few seconds so those who aren’t driving because they are too young, too old, disabled, health conscious, concerned about the environment or saving gas money can safely use the street in this part of town not served by the city bus. Even those who never intend to use any transportation mode other than the private car benefit when others make the switch. For example, I recently counted nearly 40 bikes in motion or parked on four blocks of Ninth Street. Extrapolate that to the rest of The District, then imagine each of those bikes turning into a Ford Excursion, cruising for a parking place.

Facilities that enable and encourage alternatives to the car for some journeys make the trips we must do by car a little easier. Let’s save the rancor for issues where there really is a conflict of interest and enjoy having a win-win proposal for a change.

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