Editor of the Independent:
I am pleading with the Salisbury Mayor and City Council to stop the “Vision Zero” plan, which has already ruined College Avenue, Fitzwater Street and is about to further ruin Waverly Drive.
There is an old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The “Vision Zero plan is intended to enhance safety but has in fact made these streets more dangerous.
Here is why:
For years the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has advocated for removing or moving obstacles away from the traveled portion of the roadway because when vehicles strike them, they often lose control resulting in greater danger to occupants and others in the vicinity. Traffic signals, utility poles and guard rails are all part of the effort to avoid collisions with fixed objects. It saves lives.
The Vision Zero plan goes in the opposite direction. Let’s examine why. These concrete islands have been hit by cars on a regular basis. If you want proof just look at the black tire marks and chunks knocked out of the concrete … too many to count.
Each one of these is a motor vehicle collision – more MVCs are not a step in the right direction. Anyone who thinks this enhances safety is badly misinformed.
So, what happens when a vehicle strikes the obstacle (concrete island)? It is always the right front wheel that hits the concrete island and that immediately spins the steering wheel out of control to the right, causing the vehicle to jump the curb and go over the concrete island into – guess where – the bicycle lane. Sad ending for the bicyclist if they are unfortunate enough to be there. But it doesn’t end there. After crossing the bicycle lane then where does the “out of control vehicle” go? You guessed it again, onto the sidewalk where of course pedestrians walk. Not a happy ending for the pedestrian if they happen to be there. And it doesn’t end there. Next is the yard bordering the sidewalk and woe be if children happen to be playing in the yard. That’s not to mention the property damage to the vehicle which hit the curb. Many must be towed away.
Does this sound like a way to make bicyclists, pedestrians, and children safer? I don’t think so. I witnessed this exact scenario on Fitzwater Street near the intersection of Hill Street a few months ago. The car ended up in someone’s yard after crossing the concrete island, bicycle lane and sidewalk. The ambulance arrived as I was passing.
Then there is the matter of traffic disruption. The left turn lane was eliminated westbound on College Avenue at Camden Avenue. I have seen westbound College Avenue traffic backed up clear back east to Lorecrop Drive because one car was waiting for eastbound traffic to clear so they could make a left turn to go south on Camden Ave.
It took four changes of the traffic light to clear the backup. Drivers were angry, blowing their horns and who could blame them. This is lunacy.
I travel College Avenue almost every day and today I actually saw a bicycle for the first time, and it was not using the bike lane. Half of the roadway has been devoted to less than 1 percent of the traffic (bicycles) on the street.
Maybe this plan was well intended but a mistake is a mistake. If you really want to enhance citizens safety, including bicyclists and pedestrians, then stop the installation of these foolish things on Waverly Drive and get rid of the ones on Fitzwater Street and College Avenue including the oversized speed bumps on College Ave. and do not let these changes proceed on Eastern Shore Drive as planned.
On the other hand, if you were looking for a way to anger and aggravate as many citizens as possible, you have found it.
Richard C. Insley Jr.