[Vision2020] Maintaining our city centers must be a traffic priority

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Sat May 12 05:01:23 PDT 2018

Courtesy of today’s (May 12, 2018) Moscow-Pullman Daily News with thanks to Chuck Pezeshki.


His View: Maintaining our city centers must be a traffic priority

By Chuck Pezeshki

I've been watching the reporting on the various traffic controversies in Pullman and Moscow for a while - notably the Third Street bridge controversy and the downtown Pullman parking kerfuffle. I think, at some level, both communities are modestly lucky to have the problems they're having. They are the result of some nominal level of growth that has disturbed the status quo, and both communities, with the belief structures that they have, are working to resolve the issues.

With the Third Street bridge project, Moscow's leadership is wallowing in what I'd called "never ending egocentricism." The thing here that matters is that some subset of people living to the east of Moscow are being inconvenienced by being forced to traverse Moscow from already well developed pathways that likely add at most five more minutes to their commute. In order to service this group - whether they asked for it or not - Moscow city government has decided to slash a higher speed pathway through town by the local high school and local parks as well as several residences. In order to facilitate this high speed transit, they're building marginally protected bike lanes, which of course just encourage the cars on that road to travel faster. This is simple road physics, folks. Wider lanes with protected cycling pathways work like a bigger ditch does to water. There will be greater flux through and out of the city center. That's the idea behind Jackson Street having multiple lanes - it is not a new concept at all.

Moscow has a thriving downtown precisely because, for the most part, it attempts to slow traffic through the city center. Think of the water analogy again. If you shrink the outfeed to the lake, the lake will get bigger. Additionally, it's not like there aren't high speed exits to Moscow, along the Troy Highway or even south. That's where subdivision housing has built up, and that's not so bad. In many ways, the current traffic routing in Moscow has created the community. Putting another reservoir outfeed won't completely change the nature of Moscow, but it is unnecessary. The few people inconvenienced for a few minutes by the five block detour can live with it. And the community, that has wisely maintained a downtown high school, as well as beautiful East City Park, can have a modestly flourishing urban center.

Pullman's problems are different. There, more farsighted people, such as B & L Bicycles Brice Erickson, are realizing Pullman does not have a pooling effect in the downtown area and are advocating diagonal streetside parking. Adding that parking, driven by the new Evolve on Main development, is critical as well as slowing the intent of traffic moving through downtown Pullman. Pullman's downtown, compared to Moscow's, suffers because of the current street architecture. When you cross three lanes on foot, you're going to run. That's not a sign of a walkable neighborhood. There is only one real restaurant on Main Street and only three in downtown Pullman. We have enough permanent community in Pullman to support a downtown district, but if the built architecture isn't right, slowing people down and making things more walkable, it simply won't happen. People can't, and won't, congregate. The city stays relatively unlivable, and it can't thrive.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to look at the current city map and see the overall effects of slowing or accelerating traffic in both our towns' downtown districts. Thriving downtowns matter to the people who live here as well as those people with outside investment that we're attempting to attract. Bikeable and walkable districts matter, and decisions should be made that are going to benefit the larger community. We have unique challenges, especially in Pullman, regarding reasonable traffic flow. But making decisions where downtown integrity is preeminent will pay in the long run. It's time for all our leadership to act with this as a guiding principle.


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

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