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Complete Streets: We Are Lost

August 22, 2018

The effort to impose a leftist agenda on Phoenix called “Complete Streets” has run off the track. After meetings for the last three years, the Complete Streets Committee was unable to come up with a plan that could be accepted by either the Phoenix City Council or the Phoenix Citizens Transportation Commission CTC (of which I am a member). The majority of the Complete Streets Committee thereupon resigned. But the Phoenix city staff will not let the issue die a peaceful death. They brought it up at the last CTC meeting before our summer break and we debated this issue extensively. Now we are scheduled to devote another entire meeting to the issue on August 23rd. In the meantime, Phoenix staff has conducted “rump group” (my definition) meetings to try to gain consensus.

In trying to gain consensus, rather than a majority vote, the staff has watered down the “Complete Streets Design Guidelines” to such an extent that they nearly meaningless. And, quite significantly, they have eliminated any reference to “efficiency” in the goals. What this means is that the idea of making Phoenix streets operate to get people where they want to go as efficiently as possible, is not even a goal. This is simply absurd. “Comfort” and “safety” are still goals in the design but, of course, they can both be obtained by very low speed limits, never mind the idea that most citizens are primarily concerned about getting to their destination with “Safety and Efficiency” (once a goal but the word efficiency was removed in the latest edition).

Another absurdity is the mandate that “Bicycle treatments should be considered along ALL (emphasis added) roadways”. Just imagine bikeways on Bell Rd. This was discussed in our last meeting and the moderator assured us this was not planned. (Then why not change the design guidelines to make that clear?) Furthermore, the City has no bike traffic data to back up the expenditures for bike lanes. It is quite possible that the expenditures for bike lanes in some cases may mean spending thousands of dollars per bike rider, while at the same time inconveniencing hundreds of vehicle drivers. Does this make sense? Why don’t we get the metrics we need to make these decisions?

Another absurdity is the mandate that “streets have sufficient lighting for ALL (emphasis added) users”. Has anyone ever been to Moon Valley? They do not have street lighting and do not want it.

Another example is the mandate that “streets be designed for the APPROPRIATE (emphasis added) speed”. Who knows what that is? Since the word “efficient” was eliminated from the design guidelines, it obviously does not mean getting people to their destination as efficiently as possible.

And one more: “All streets should have pedestrian infrastructure….” Has anyone ever driven in the far north areas of Phoenix where there are horse properties? Clearly, these areas have no need for sidewalks.

Are we investing millions of dollars just to make streets pretty and achieve some political agenda? Let’s get serious and get back to fiscal responsibility so we can keep Phoenix moving.

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