No to gridlock, yes to one-way in downtown
The proposal for downtown Lexington to convert to two-way streets reminds me of the mid 1950s when the interstate highways were being planned. Some downtown merchants proposed that I-75 should run down Main Street.
It's a good thing that idea was dismissed, and this new one should be dismissed also. To make it harder to get downtown by creating gridlock will not encourage people to come; they may vow to never come downtown again.
Joseph E. Long
Four ways dumber
I have four words for those people who think it is a good idea to change downtown streets from one-way to two-way: Dumb, dumb, dumb and dumber!
Such a move would certainly slow downtown traffic and create additional traffic congestion. It would cost city drivers more money for gasoline and consume more of their time.
People who own a business downtown who think this action would encourage more people to come downtown and shop at their store, need to think again. I would be less likely to come downtown under such a circumstance. If you want to grow downtown business, create more parking and make it free or lower the cost.
The attitude seems to be to let the driving public be damned — go ahead waste more gas money and your time for a concept that has no real logic.
In the 1950s when the first one-way streets were introduced in Lexington, it was to improve traffic flow and save time. And now, suddenly, two-way traffic is a better idea? Come on!
Try no-way traffic
The one-way versus two-way streets debate is the time to be thinking outside the box. There is another option that we should also consider: no vehicle traffic at all. We could start with changing Main Street, from Natasha's to Broadway, into a pedestrian-only mall and make an unambiguous commitment to bringing people and retail business back downtown.
There are plenty of examples to look at in other cities, both in the United States and other western countries, where this has been done with great success. The sidewalk space instantly becomes available for retail shops, restaurants and cafes, and the pedestrians take over the street. All that we need to do is build a couple of parking stations, not more than one street east or west of Main Street, so that our citizens will have no further to walk than if they were going to the mall.
When considering the success of two-way streets downtown, we should probably not be comparing Lexington to cities which have interstate or other limited access highways running through the urban area for rapid access and egress.
One-way: just do it
I cannot remember a time when one-way vs. two-way streets in downtown was not in full debate — a debate brought forth by the urban activist Jane Jacobs, who wrote "The Death and Life of Great American Cities." Jacobs cited two key factors in the health and redevelopment of the urban core: Slow down vehicular traffic and convert one-way streets to two-way streets.
The experience of many American cities confirms that her ideas work.
Yet, the opposition is spirited and vocal.
One-way streets might move traffic a little faster. But, by slowing down traffic, two-way streets improve the quality of life. As Jacobs said, with slower traffic people feel safer, and with that feeling, people will see and do more things They use the sidewalks more, they walk around. They even spend more money (economic vitality ensues). They feel better about the community; they socialize more with people they know and meet. Jacobs taught that good urban planning has a profound effect on the way we feel about life in general.
A relatively simple fix to urban life is two-way streets. We naturally think that way: going and coming. The current labyrinth of one-way streets is mindlessly confusing, even to someone like me who's lived and worked in the downtown for almost 40 years.
The mayor of Charleston, S.C., Joseph Riley, has been heard to say, "Just do it. Fifteen minutes after is was done, people asked me, 'What took you so long?'"
Just do it!
Louis Zoellar Bickett II
The chief advantage of spending thousands of taxpayer dollars (other than to the engineering firms who get the contracts) to tear up the downtown streets to create two-ways is that it will deter citizens from coming downtown where they are at the mercy of the relentless, overly aggressive parking meter police enforcing the draconian and outrageously expensive short-term meter parking.
On the other hand, a major advantage of one way streets is that a pedestrian has an only 50 percent chance of being struck in a crosswalk due to either oncoming or turning traffic in a town where almost all drivers are completely oblivious to pedestrians and when they have the right of way. With two-way traffic, the odds of being struck in a crosswalk increases by another 50 percent.
Let's revitalize downtown and elevate walking to an extreme sport, opening the competition to all brave citizens.
Save money, time
I'm grateful to the visionary city leaders who established one-way streets and synchronized stoplights in downtown Lexington.
I moved to Lexington in 1969, when Vine Street and Main Street were two-way, so I experienced the congestion and gridlock then. After the conversion, I drove one-way Vine and Main almost every work day for 33 years. I saved about three minutes each day, about 412 hours total.
That also saved me a lot of gasoline, and eliminated a lot of exhaust fumes including carbon dioxide emissions. I think it would be a mistake to revert to two way streets.
I am a native Lexingtonian for 62 years. When Lexington was much smaller and had a lot less traffic, the city paid a consultant a lot of our money to help us streamline traffic downtown. The recommendation was to make those streets one-way and they removed railroad tracks.
Now that we have much more traffic, how can it be that we need to return to two-way streets?
Are we spending another big chunk of our dough on another consultant? If so, these consultants are just telling the city what it wants to hear.
I can not imagine two-way streets, especially when there is an event at Rupp. This will be just one more reason to avoid downtown.