Letter: Use calming devices on Fourth Plain
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Recently a woman was killed while using a crosswalk on Fourth Plain. It had flashing lights, as does the crosswalk on Mill Plain near Andresen. Both have been sites of traffic injuries. Against my better judgment, I drove Fourth Plain east from Grand. That street is a madhouse. Lots of people, lots of flashing lights, lots of traffic. Far too much visual distraction.
Years ago, David Engwicht from Australia was invited to talk to city staff, neighborhood groups and those interested in street design. Engwicht is considered one of the world's most innovative thinkers about traffic. He would tell you that Fourth Plain doesn't need flashing lights -- it needs calming. He would probably suggest a strip of trees and plantings down the center with left-turn lanes. The remaining space would be single lanes of traffic and maybe bike lanes, too. And a planting strip along the sidewalks to separate pedestrians from road traffic.
If you envision Fourth Plain like this, you can see that the break in sight lines would remove a lot of the visual clutter. Trees and their shade would enhance the calmness of the street and create psychological peace in pedestrian and automotive traffic.
Writings of Engwicht are available at the library. Consider paying attention to what he says.