Teresa Stickler speaks out against Phoenix’s Reverse Lanes

Yesterday, I posted a letter from Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski. The letter expressed a dissenting opinion to 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.

Teresa Stickler, owner of Melrose Pharmacy on 7th Ave, was Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Reverse Lanes. Yesterday, along with city staff, she presented the Task Force’s report.  A summary of the report is found at the end of this document (pdf).

While both sides of the issue praised Teresa for her professional and unbiased fulfillment of her duties, once she tabled the report, she was able to speak freely.  This is what she had to say:

Mayor and City Council,

Teresa Stickler

Many of you know that I am a business owner, but you may not know that I am also a resident of Central Phoenix. In particular,on a street that has a stream of cut-through traffic during the morning commute. The cut through traffic is so bad. that neighbors have to put their garbage cans and recycling bins far enough out in the road .. as obstacles to slow the cars down.

I have been active on this issue ever since our neighborhood turned down a good multi-use project that would have filled a large, vacant blighted piece of land. It was turned down, mostly because traffic would be forced into our neighborhood since one could not turn out of the project because of the reverse lanes.

I asked myself “Why? Why should the reverse lanes who:

  • have outlived their purpose,
  • are preventing good projects from being built, and
  • encouraging cut through traffic;

be allowed to continue to destroy our neighborhoods and businesses, all in the name of speed?”

EVERYONE here knows, that the average speed driving 7th Ave and 7th Street is above the speed limit and that driving the actual speed limit will get you middle fingers and then some…

The neighborhoods have sacrificed. As over 400 speed bumps in 13 miles shows. And yet it is still not enough.

The businesses have sacrificed. Online survey results showed that over 49% of the people avoid businesses on 7th Avenue and 7th Street. That number astonishes me. Well that might be why the at least 20 businesses have gone out of business in the last 5 years—19 of those from 7th Avenue alone (because I don’t know much about 7th Street.) I can name them if you’d like.

Although the reverse lanes have wreaked havoc on our neighborhoods and businesses for 30 years. I am not asking commuters to suffer with congestion. I don’t think there is going to be much of any.

The streets study, where they GUESS what the increased travel times will be, has several serious flaws. Some of the include:

  • There was no optimization of left-hand green arrows;
  • If other routes are quicker. cars will take other roads; and
  • They DO cause accidents. Just not statistically significant to the Streets Department’s standards.

Have you noticed traffic backup on Central Avenue when they lost a lane due to Light Rail? No.

From the online survey, only 9% of residents thought that cut-through traffic would get worse.

I am asking you Mayor and City Council, do a 1 year test on the removal of the reverse lanes! You’ve got nothing to lose. but everything to gain.

The people have spoken:

  • Last time we were at City Council 2 years ago, when over 200 people were in attendance;
  • In the PURL study … of over 1,000 people; and
  • In the online surveys of over 2,200 people.

More than half of the people want the lanes removed per City Council 2 years ago, the PURL study, and online surveys.

I have brought with me over 1,280 signatures on petitions, a letter from Bashas, Xavier College Prep, and a neighborhood association, all asking for the elimination of the reverse lanes.

What more can the people do? We have screamed, sent e-mails. shown up at City Council (even at 2 pm on a work day!)

Test it. It can’t hurt! It will prove whether the lanes are needed or not. It is the cheapest option, and would get us real data. The neighborhoods will be able to handle reinstating the lanes. If we know they are needed. But to continue to suffer because of a GUESS what travel times might be, is an insult to Central Phoenix.

Only REAL data, will please EVERYONE!

Let Phoenix’s motto be:

“Phoenix, a great city to live in” instead of “Phoenix, the fastest city to get out of.”

Thank you Mayor and Council

Thanks you for this elegant and well reasoned speech Teresa and let’s continue working together.  As I said yesterday, while me may have lost this round, the fight for making a Phoenix a great city for everybody and not just cars will continue.

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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