Bike AdvocacyComplete Streets

Road Safety, Or Getting Their Faster?

For years there has been data coming from all over that talks about the cost of congestion on an area. The more congestion their is the more productivity is lost the more it costs an area. This data could help an area to realize that it needs to promote alternative forms of transportation, and get more cars off the road. Unfortunetly what it usually ends up doing is promoting the idea of faster, bigger, and wider roads. These types of roads may help short term with productivity but they ruin the areas they exist in making tons of noise pollution, lower home values, unsafe conditions for all road users, and as we all know if you build it they will come which only  adds to the problem of congestion. But how can you fight economics when it comes to data showing the need for less congestion (added to the mentality of bigger, wider, faster )? The answer is to fight it with better economics of course.

A recent study just came out from the Oregon Department of Transportation titled Metro’s State of Safety Report. The report shows that road collisions are costing the area over one million more dollars a year than congestion in property damage, medical costs, and productivity. As per usual the human element is brushed over with the comment, “not to mention the pain and suffering from the loss of life.” So roads are unsafe we already knew that, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that the study shows the biggest culprit is arterial roads, the very roads that are supposed to be saving money by decreasing congestion.

In the area studied arterials made up 19% of the roads, and contributed to 59% of all serious/fatal crashes.

This begs the question then of what is the cost we are willing to pay to get somewhere a little faster? One life, two lives, 20 lives? What if that life is someone we care for, or our own? Our very own Bull Dog Boulevard (which at its most used point is seven lanes wide) is statistically the most dangerous road in Provo for bicyclists and cars, and is one of the most used road by BYU/high school students, and staff. Do we leave roads like this (500W, University Ave, 300S, etc) wide and fast or do we narrow them down a bit, slow them down a bit, take them down to a livable/human pace, and plan to wait an extra 5 minutes in traffic? It seems like an easy answer. This is a question all of us will have to keep asking as we strive to make Provo a better place to live, work, and ride.

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  1. Bulldog Blvd. isn’t dangerous because of the number of lanes; it’s dangerous because it’s a busy road with a slow stoplight every block. Provo really needs to decide which roads are major and which are minor instead of trying to make every north/south road major.

    But the main reason Bulldog is a horrible road for cyclists is that it has no shoulder. This post suggests that widening the road would make it less safe, but I believe that widening it and adding bike lanes would make it more safe.

    1. I could not agree with you more about North South routes in Provo, the lack of shoulder on Bulldog, and the fact that number of lanes is not the only determining factor to dangerous arterials (speed being the other). However, the more lanes you have the more people will go faster than the speed limit. Bicycle lanes are often used for traffic calming when roads go on diets, and the reason is that they narrow the road visually which slows drivers down. 100 S and Timpview Drive are two great examples right here in Provo. Widening roads, even for bike use, when they are already wide tends to add to traffic issues not help them. Not to mention that widening a road like Bulldog would have a very very high cost with business fronts, and utility layout being what it is.

  2. I completely disagree. University Ave, 500 W, and 300 S really need expansion, we are severely lacking in major through ways and it makes traffic terrible. Look at how many roads have been expanded in Orem, and I’ve never had any major problems with them. The trouble with Bulldog isn’t that it’s wide, it’s that it’s such a short section of road(five blocks long) in which everyone is fighting to get over and across three lanes of traffic, lack of a shoulder lane for those turning right to move off on when turning into a shopping center, or trying to avoid someone in the left turn lane(or the many that only half get into the left turn lane). and the stoplights at every block don’t help this either.

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