Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot Clarifies Reverse Lanes Decision

Last month, I posted letters from Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski and Melrose Pharmacy owner Teresa Stickler. The letter expressed their disappointment about City Council’s refusal to agree to even a temporary suspension of the reverse lanes on 7th Ave and 7th St. The temporary suspension of the lanes would have allowed some data could be collected.

At the time of the decision, there was some confusion about what actually occurred and what was ultimately decided. This week, District 4 Councilman Tom Simplot issued the following statement clarifying City Council’s decison:

The 7th Avenue and 7th Street reverse lanes action by the City Council on December 14 prompted an overwhelming response from the community. Some applauded the public process, and some voiced concerns about the outcome, but almost all expressed confusion about the Council vote.

In order to clarify the Council’s action and its outcome, it is first important to note that a minimum of 5 council votes is needed for any motion to pass. Regardless of how many members are present, a 5-person majority is required on any action.

When this item was heard on December 14, there were 7 voting members present. Unfortunately, the 5 votes needed to eliminate the reverse lanes were not at hand. So, as we often do, the Council had to compromise.

What was ultimately approved by the City Council was a motion directing City staff to provide left turn opportunities at major east-west streets, create an education campaign instructing drivers on how to use the lanes, and increase Police enforcement along the 7’s. The objective is to ease cut-through traffic in neighborhoods, address the confusing nature of the lanes through education, and reduce speeding and aggressive driving with Police presence.

The outcome of this long, arduous process was disappointing to all of us who have fought this battle. Our hope now is to ensure that comprehensive safety measures are implemented as quickly as possible.

Tom Simplot

This clarification is much appreciated, and while—as Tom said— the outcome remains disappointing—providing left turns (and no mention of dreaded bus bays!) are (baby) steps in the right direction.

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.

  • Good luck with that “education program”, City Council.