ASU study critical of Phoenix’s reversible lanes

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix should improve signage along its twin reversible-lane corridors or else eliminate them entirely, according to a new study from researchers at Arizona State University.  The report, which was commissioned last year by the City Council, will help decide the fate of reversible lanes on Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street.  The council will discuss the issue in September.

For more than 25 years, the lanes have eased the way for commuters coming downtown in the morning and returning home at night.  But residents and some merchants complain that the lanes confuse motorists and make the corridor unfriendly to pedestrians.  Surveys of more than 200 people by researchers at ASU’s Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory found widespread dissatisfaction with the lanes as they exist today.  The lack of left turns along the corridors causes cut-through traffic in neighborhoods and parking lots, erratic U-turns, and additional travel as drivers are forced to make a series of right turns, the authors found.  Some drivers simply avoid the streets altogether.  “Either an upgrading of the lanes or a return to normal operation is in order,” the authors wrote.  “If there were an inability to upgrade the signage, we feel that a most popular option would be to return the lanes to normal operation rather than keep them as is.”

Councilman Tom Simplot, whose district includes part of the study area, said the findings confirm that the lanes are a detriment to the area.  “I support the conclusion that the lanes should be eliminated,” he said.  But eliminating them would greatly increase commute times — doubling them on Seventh Avenue, a separate analysis by Phoenix’s streets department found.

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