‘Road Diet’ Is Why Portage Road Is Messed Up, Believe It Or Not
One person's progress is another person's nightmare. It's life in this bright new millennium. The Michigan Department of Transportation today explained why they continue to do what they do, in the name of progress and safety. You might be like me and not necessarily agree, but they have the keys and we don't.
Today's lesson is "Road Diet".
No keto or carbs here, kids. This is why local streets like Portage Road are more annoying to drive. M-DOT says it safer, and it probably is, but it sure is less fun to drive.
M-DOT explains a "Road Diet" is a "reconfiguration". They love it because it "offers several high-value improvements at a low cost when applied to traditional four-lane undivided highways." What it means is they take a four lane street and turn it into a two lane street - with a center lane.
I'm already shaking. M-DOT's argument is it lowers crash rates from about 20 to 50 percent partly by lowering "vehicle speed differential". Well, sure, because we're all crawling along at 15 miles per hour. And using Portage Road as the example, as you drive north towards downtown, there's that lane merge to two lanes. Excuse me, but what is the one thing Michigan drivers are worst at than anything else? Merging. And, if you're like me, and don't drive Portage Road all that often, that merge just kind of comes up on you and suprises you suddenly. Tell me how that's safer?
Well, M-DOT's argument is this.
"Why consider a Road Diet? Four-lane undivided highways experience relatively high crash frequencies — especially as traffic volumes and turning movements increase over time — resulting in conflicts between high-speed through traffic, left-turning vehicles and other road users." - M-DOT
Maybe if more drivers knew the rules of the road, but I don't see how taking lanes away and adding merge lanes without having drivers know what laws about them, how that's safer? Four lanes and a merge lane, I'm fine with.
But what I really, really think would be a win, win for all, is traffic lights that are synced. Nothing is more annoying than that. Start with Kalamazoo Ave. and North Street, and then do Portage.