Lessons From Out of Town
An out-of-town television news crew interviewed me last week about our traffic problems. The two reporters explained to me that their city now finds itself overwhelmed with congestion. Turning to other places for ideas, they were fascinated by the notion that getting around Washington is so difficult that the local newspaper has a columnist who writes about nothing but transportation issues.
The TV crew was from Belgrade.
The Serbian capital has too many cars for its roads and bridges. When more and more people can drive, fewer and fewer want to wait for a bus to come along. It was all starting to sound very familiar.
Are there lessons we can learn from the experiences of other cities, both positive and negative. One letter-writer things we can. Here's what he suggested:
"I was wondering if you could start a series about suggestions from other cities that could work here in Washington, D.C. ?
"Since so many residents of this area are from somewhere else, the resulting submissions could be instructive to our local authorities on how to alleviate many of our traffic problems.
"I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I have a couple to get things started:
"1) Have a designated one-way bus lane that flows against the traffic on the one-way streets downtown. The bus would have its own right of way. No one would be in their way. Parking restrictions would be strictly enforced with stiff fines for offenses and towing as well.
"2) To end the dangerous practice of illegal right and left turns while the curb lanes wait for pedestrian traffic to clear, have four way red lights at all downtown intersections. All traffic would stop while all pedestrian traffic would have a right of way to cross during those times. Have police available to enforce the illegal turns to send a strong message. The blocking of the box would lessen because the rush to make it to the other side would be lessened.
"3) Institute a Weather Emergency policy ala the Snow Emergency policy now in effect. When heavy rains hit the area, for instance, it may as well have been a foot of snow, such is the apoplexy exhibited by our drivers.
No parking during the emergency. Heavy ticketing and towing would be in effect."
Readers of this blog have traveled extensively, and some of you are former Washingtonians now living elsewhere. What have you seen that could help us here?
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