What Do We Do About the West Martin Luther King Jr. St. Bridge?

Recently, the City of Ithaca Engineering Office solicited public comment on a draft design report for the West Martin Luther King Jr. Street Corridor Enhancements project. Written comments can be submitted to Tim Logue at TLogue@cityofithaca.org or mailed or hand delivered to the Engineering Office in City Hall, 108 East Green Street.  Comments will be accepted until April 30, 2017.The study area covers the portion of West Martin Luther King Jr. Street (also known as West State Street or Route 79), from Floral Avenue (Rt 13A) to Taughannock Boulevard.  The proposed goals are to improve pedestrian conditions along the street, to improve options for pedestrians to cross the street, to enhance conditions for bicyclists, and to improve safety along the corridor.

Patt Dutt’s Response (with which I concur!)

I think anyway that the City can reduce car traffic will benefit everyone, and in the present and future.  Thus, I support Alternative 1 or 2; it seems that 2 proposes bike lanes in each direction, and that proposal would encourage more bicycling into the City.  As I noted on the Westhill listserv, a study done many years ago indicated the average West Hiller makes an average of 3 trips into town a day; short distances would be more suitable to biking than driving in many circumstances.

Having 3 vs 4 lanes of traffic on the State St. Bridge (connecting to Elm, 13A) would also immediately slow down the traffic, and slower traffic is always safer for anyone on the road.

I believe that more effort needs to be expended to encourage people to walk and bike– of course during the winter this is not always possible but some people such as yours truly , will bike throughout the year, picking and choosing the non-favorable bike/walk days.  The West Hill is an established neighborhood (eg, not a lot of students) and could serve as a leader if such an activity is ever put on your agenda.  Changing the mindset of a community from bikes as being rabble-rouser troublesome two-wheelers to bikes as being quiet nonpolluting smell-the-flowers vehicles would transform the neighborhood, and the city.

Also, keep in mind there are people who cannot afford cars, and walking or biking or taking mass transit (which is abysmal on the West Hill route) is their only way to get around.  Many people who live in the apartments on West Hill will never be able to afford a car, and to make their ingress and egress safe should be a priority of the City.

The quickest way to kill a city is to clog it with traffic. I don’t believe people put this thought in their conscious brain, and therefore, don’t act on it by, for instance, changing their habits. I think economic incentives and games do change people’s habits, and I encourage your department to brainstorm with the community on this.

Thanks for all of your hard work, Tim.

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