Following is our response to the anonymous post card paid for by the Citizens Coalition to Save Our Main Street. Please read the facts! We all want what is best for High Point so we welcome an open public debate, we believe these naysayers are just misinformed and that through well presented factual information everyone will be much more open minded about this concept!
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT WITH FACTS
A Response to “Save High Point’s Main Street”
Claim 1: Special interest organizations City Project and Heart High Point are preparing to reduce Main Street from four to just two lanes to benefit a handful of wealthy property owners.
Truth: The City Project and We Heart High Point are not “special interest organizations.” They are all-volunteer organizations (The City Project is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit) that seek to promote the revitalization of High Point. No one involved in these organizations receives a salary or will receive any direct economic benefit from either group’s activities. The members of these two groups are well known. They don’t hide who they are.
The proposed road diet would be from four and five lanes to three. A new North Main Street would benefit all the citizens of High Point by creating a walkable, pedestrian-friendly place that will be attractive and create vitality in a way High Pointers cannot now experience and will enjoy. North Main Street will become a “drive to” place instead of a “drive thru” place. The claim that improving North Main Street will only benefit “wealthy property owners” is preposterous and is a pitiful attempt to promote class division in our city. There are many landowners in the area and not all are wealthy. Additionally, it is contradictory to say that wealthy property owners will benefit while at the same time claiming that the proposed changes will only result in disaster. If dieting will result in disaster, how will landowners benefit?
Claim 2: An additional 10,000 to 15,000 vehicles per day will be diverted onto neighboring parallel streets such as Johnson, Hamilton, Elm and Lindsay … Permanently!
Truth: There is no evidence to support this claim. They simply made it up. Preliminary numbers from the ongoing North Main Street Road Diet Study indicate traffic counts of roughly 21,000 cars per day on North Main Street. The idea that 50-75 percent of cars will no longer travel North Main Street after a road diet is completely ridiculous. Case studies of road diets across the nation show that, while traffic volumes initially drop by roughly 10-15 percent, original traffic volumes return and are either maintained or increase after conversion. “Increasing traffic on neighborhood streets always comes up as a worry, says [Peter] Lagerwey. But it’s just something that doesn’t happen with road diets. People stay on the streets.”
Claim 3: A massive bond package will be passed requiring an initial investment of $12 to $15 million dollars which will be up to the average High Pointer to repay… this money will come out of your pocket!
Truth: There is no evidence to support this claim. They just made it up. Implementation costs can vary widely depending on what is done. Simply repainting the street could be done at a minimum of cost without any bond package. Athens, Ga. dieted 1.9 miles of a street at a cost of $190,000. Vancouver, Wash. dieted 1 mile of a street and buried power lines for $1.26 million. Like anything else, cost depends on how much you choose to do, but there are no estimates at this time on cost. Also, any bond package of this size would have to approved by High Point voters and no such package has even been formally proposed.
Claim 4: Main Street businesses will be devastated as they lose more than half of their daily traffic count.
Truth: Nonsense! Half? Another made up figure. See above — traffic counts typically stay the same or increase with road diets. Reducing the number of traffic lanes in each direction eliminates lane changes and weaving which actually improves traffic flow and safety. Slower speeds mean less required distance between cars, increasing the capacity of the street. Not only are traffic counts not adversely affected, but pedestrian and bicycle traffic increases dramatically. Road dieted streets become “park once” areas where people are more likely to park, walk around, linger, and enjoy the setting… and shop and eat. Road dieting is a proven method for revitalizing an area and attracting new development, and has proven to improve economic conditions by both increasing property values and improving sales for merchants along the street. Charlotte dieted East Boulevard through Dilworth in three phases mainly by repainting the street and saw crashes fall by 35 percent, injuries fall by 68 percent, bicycle use climb 23 percent, walking increase 30 percent, and property values increase 47 percent (even during the “Great Recession”). “All of a sudden there are million dollar condos, it has become a real restaurant row, and it wasn’t before we got the road dieted.” (Dan Gallagher, transportation planning section planning manager for the city of Charlotte). After phases 1 and 2 were completed, 77 percent of respondents approved of the construction of phase 3.
Claim 5: Traffic gridlock on Main Street will be the normal daily result during peak hour drive times.
Truth: Gridlock? I thought they said 50-75 percent of the cars will divert elsewhere. How can you have major diversion of traffic and gridlock? One councilman asked the High Point transportation director directly if the road diet would result in gridlock. His answer? No. As stated above, reducing the number of travel lanes actually improves traffic flow. If done while also maximizing traffic light timing, proper flow can be maintained. Traffic flow and traffic speed are different. By design, a road diet will slow traffic… which is a good thing… but flow will actually be smoother. Good for business because slower traffic gives drivers more opportunity to see the businesses on the street. Good for safety… right now the crash rate on North Main Street is 59 percent higher than the state average. Road dieted streets experience an average reduction rate of 30 percent.
If you want more information (including case studies) on road diets, take the time to inform yourself, and don’t believe people or groups who lie to you.
The information for this response can be found in the following publications