As a Town of Bethlehem resident who lives in Delmar and works in town on Delaware Avenue, the road diet is especially important to me. With the negative press recently, I want to offer a different perspective. I fully support the Delaware Avenue road diet.
I look forward to bike lanes which allow me to ride safely to get groceries or a cone at Tastee Freeze. As a kid growing up in Delmar, I wanted to ride my bicycle to the Delaware Plaza, Del Lanes, and other local businesses. Usually I did not because riding on Delaware felt incredibly risky. Still as an adult I avoid riding on Delaware Avenue Aside from improving safety, bike lanes are an obvious choice to promote fitness, carbon-neutral commuting, and a greener community (which I strongly support).
I also support reducing the speed limit and lane count. Often, I get stuck driving behind cars going 30-35 mph in both lanes of Delaware. I can’t pass and can’t go 40 mph. The road diet might as well happen because a single-lane 35 mph Delaware Avenue is already the effective reality. Not only that, I strongly support any road changes that improve safety, even if that means extending commute times slightly. I want to get to my destination as fast as the next person, but my convenience isn’t more important than the safety of those on the road around me.
As a community, I urge everyone to think of the road diet with an evidence-based approach. The idea of taking driving lanes away and reducing speed limits can be upsetting. After all, our brains are programmed with loss aversion: the tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains. Let’s overcome that gut reaction and look at the facts. Will the road diet improve safety, promote healthy carbon-neutral commuting, and retain customer traffic on Delaware Avenue? If so, that sounds like an overall gain. We trade a little commute time for all those benefits.