News and Tribune

Letters

September 6, 2012

News and Tribune letters: Sept. 6, 2012

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — One-way streets are a road to nowhere

New Albany civic planners of a previous, benighted generation transformed downtown streets like Elm and Spring into one-way arteries suitable only for encouraging vehicular speed and abetting the misbehavior of dullards, and accordingly, that’s exactly the way most drivers treat them, impeded by speed traps that are little more than cynical Band-Aids.

It’s a situation entirely at odds with the concept of safe neighborhoods, not to mention the revitalizing of the downtown business district. Walkers and cyclists understand the overall effect is one of a vehicular racetrack slicing through a collection of unfortunate homes and stores under siege. Any conceivable human aesthetic is erased daily by the auto-centric design.

Any conceivable hope is paralyzed by force of timid political habit, with New Albany’s current “leadership” cadre seemingly unable to skip past council person Bob Caesar’s personal mantra, one repeated so often that it might as well be the whole city’s sad, hidebound eulogy:

“I never met a fresh way of thinking that I like, or can even comprehend, so we need to protect ourselves at any cost from the book readers.”  

 We’ll also be dumping close to $600,000 into a bicentennial park adjacent to two of Caesar’s beloved one-way downtown streets. In a few short years, when the Sherman Minton becomes the only major nontolled bridge across the Ohio River (you can thank local “leaders” like Caesar and Ed Clere for tolls, too), and if nothing is done to abate the ensuing crush of “pass through but never stop” traffic on Spring Street, the automotive din alone likely will be sufficient to render Caesar’s bronze-plaque, bicentennial park legacy into a forum suitable only for dealing drugs and sipping Mad Dog.

And yet so much as mention the merits of two-way streets for living, breathing humans, and listen as the budgetary excuses begin.

New Albany has a brief window of opportunity in which we might “occupy” our own streets, and utilize the concept of purposeful design to the advantage of those residents who are living, working and paying taxes right here, as opposed to others from elsewhere who are not — and who neither care about our city, nor can be expected to contribute to an equitable transportation solution.

Is it more important to improve the quality of life in our own historic neighborhoods, or to provide high-speed conduits for outsiders racing to avoid Kerry Stemler’s dreadful bridge tolls?

The credo is right here. Perhaps it is time for this city’s officials to hear you reading it to them, as often as possible. For more, visit http://www.completestreets.org.

“The streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities. They ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.

Now, in communities across the country, a movement is growing to complete the streets. States, cities and towns are asking their planners and engineers to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.

Instituting a Complete Streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind — including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”

— Roger Baylor, New Albany

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