Reverse Lanes on the 7s: Convenience Over Community

The following is a letter by Vice-Mayor and district 7  Councilman, Michael Nowakowski, written after yesterday’s City council recommendation to maintain the reverse lanes with minor changes.

For those who have followed this blog for a while know that I support eliminating these reverse (aka suicide) lanes my concern is not so much a safety one, but rather have to do with neighborhood vitality and livability. i expressed many of these in the post Suicide Lanes Kill Communities that contained the text of a letter published in the Arizona Republic.  Vice Mayor Nowakowski touches on many of these reasons in his letter.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Nowakowski Convenience Over Safety: Reverse Lanes on the 7sToday, my colleagues and I at City Council considered the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Task Force that studied the issue of the reverse lanes on 7th Avenue and 7th Street.

For many years as a private citizen, I disliked the effect that the reverse lanes had on traffic and neighborhoods, and for the past few years I’ve had the privilege of fighting the reverse lanes as your councilman. My staff and I know intimately the problems with speeding, the confusion, the cut-through traffic and the accidents and near-misses that threaten people along these roads. I’ve received thousands of calls, emails, and letters about the negative effect of reverse lanes on our community.

At today’s meeting, however, convenience was chosen over safety and quality of life. While it’s promising that the City will pursue enforcement and education along the reverse lanes, my hope has always been to eliminate the reverse lanes and put safety first. I’d like to thank Councilman Tom Simplot for his long-time efforts to eliminate the reverse lanes, and my colleagues Councilwoman Thelda Williams and Mayor Phil Gordon for their willingness to consider the well-being of our neighborhoods.

I would also like to extend a big thanks to all of the members of the task force we seated for their service, and the hundreds of Phoenicians who participated in the public hearing process regardless of how they feel about the reverse lanes. A city is only as great as its people, and we have the best people.

Your friend,

Michael Nowakowski

Vice Mayor and District 7 resident

While we may have lost this round, the fight will continue. We will building on the support that we received during this latest round and continue to raise awareness that there is more to life in Phoenix than commuting by car. City council will meet again in about 6 months to review the implementations of the accepted recommendations, included allowing left turns at major intersections.  in August, Phoenix will have municipal elections for half of the council and a new mayor. Both of these events will give us another opportunity to press City Council to do the right thing and—at a minimum—approve a temporary removal of the reverse lanes so real traffic, safety and economic development data can be gathered.

In the meantime, please express your appreciation (via email or phone call) to the city council members who showed their support for removing the reverse lanes and putting community above cars at yesterday’s meeting:

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.

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