As a Delmar resident, I frequent the shops along the stretch of Delaware Avenue between Elsmere Avenue and the Normanskill bridge. However, I groan at the prospect of turning left out of the Delmar Beverage Center or Dunkin Donuts to head back home. I might have to wait several minutes studying the four lanes of traffic — waiting for a gap in traffic coming from my left to magically coincide with a big enough gap from my right — before I can safely turn left.
So when I first heard about a possible center left turn lane, which is a major component of the proposed Complete Streets project, I was all for it. The reduction in lanes too — I’d only need a gap in one lane of traffic at a time. My ability to exit parking lots would be much less stressful.
That’s just me, and how I use that road. I am convinced that other aspects of complete streets will be beneficial to others in Bethlehem as well. In addition to being more convenient for shoppers like me, the new road design — one lane of travel in each direction, a center turn lane, and a reduced speed limit — will be safer for drivers and more welcoming to pedestrians and bicyclists.
I think our town should do its best to accommodate multiple ways of moving around town, whether that’s walking, cycling, or driving. And right now that stretch of Delaware is completely focused on cars at the expense of walkers and bikers.
In fact, the town’s feasibility study identified only one potential drawback to the proposed changes: an added 40-50 seconds to drive the whole stretch during the heaviest traffic times. (For me, the time saved turning into and out of businesses will far outweigh that extra minute on the roads.)
Slowing down traffic is good, because it’s safer. But it’s also quieter, which can beautify a business district, as it makes everything feel more relaxed.
The complete streets project has my full support. Building roads, neighborhoods and business districts that support multiple modes of transportation is simply good planning and will be good for our town’s future.