Letter to the Editor

LETTER: An alternate perspective on Franklin Street parking situation

Thursday, September 15, 2022

To the Editor:

Earlier this week, the Banner Graphic published an article summarizing a conversation among city council members regarding traffic on Franklin Street. The current proposal is to remove parking on the south side of the road in order to encourage a smoother flow of traffic. City council members overwhelmingly agree on this course of action, but I hope they consider the information below.

There are several reasons this may not be the best solution and I would like to propose counter points for consideration.

Research shows that widened streets would actually encourage faster driving, which could lead to more accidents. Wider streets give drivers a false sense of security and make them feel like they can drive faster without consequence. This is especially dangerous in areas where pedestrians are present. This is widely documented by people smarter than me and not immediately obvious if you are unaware of the research I present above. Here are excerpts from articles listed above:

“Looking at the crash databases, Karim found that collision rates escalate as lane widths exceed about 10.5 feet.”

“In Toronto, where traffic lanes are typically wider than in Tokyo, the average crash impact speed is also 34 percent higher, Karim found, suggesting that wider lanes not only result in more crashes but in more severe crashes.”

“For decades, transport engineers and planners have considered wider lanes safer, as they provided higher maneuvering space within the lane and were said to help prevent sideswipes among cars. Yet, in an urban setting, this means cars may go faster, and, when cars go faster, the likelihood of crashes and injuries increases. For example, if a car is traveling at 30 km/h (18.6 mph), pedestrians have a 90 percent chance of survival, but, if the car is traveling at 50 km/h (31 mph), there is only a 15 percent chance the struck pedestrian will survive”

Personally, I often find myself on Franklin Street when commuting on foot or on a bicycle. Franklin is a direct path between downtown and the eastside of town without the noise, congestion and dangers associated with 231/Washington Street. If I am driving the same route, I choose to avoid Franklin and opt for the faster route of Washington Street.

We should always think about our first responders when making decisions that might influence their ability to respond to an emergency. However, there are resources available to protect the safety of pedestrians while also supporting the fire department’s ability to reach an emergency unencumbered.

If we choose to remove parking from Franklin Street I would propose using part of the newly recovered road to paint a dedicated bike lane between College Street and Dairy Castle. A bike lane is inexpensive compared to a People Pathway improvements and will still slow the speed of traffic without the line of sight issues described in the original article. Research shows that bike lanes enrich the lives of residents and can even increase revenue to businesses on either end of Franklin Street.

These are just some of the alternative opinions on removing parking to widen our streets. I hope that the city council will consider all the potential implications before deciding on this issue.

Vincent Aguirre