It's a small win, and one neighborhood business owners aren't too happy with, but Dallas urbanists picked up a significant victory from the Dallas City Council Wednesday. Knox Street is going from four lanes to three, acceding to the vision laid out for the popular retail and residential stretch that's been in the works for more than four years.
The idea behind road diets like the one Knox is about to go on is to make the neighborhoods the roads cut through accessible to cyclists, pedestrians and drivers, rather than being auto-focused to the detriment of the other groups. Fewer lanes mean lower speeds for cars. Sidewalks can be widened. Parking can be made more accessible too — Knox Street will be getting angled, head-in spaces that are easier to pull out of than the street's current perpendicular setup.
Some business owners along Knox voiced a common fear of those who oppose road diets on Wednesday: that of a looming traffic disaster. Robert Miklos, who was at the meeting representing the owners of the Knox Street Chuy's, said that a so-called one, one and one street (one lane of traffic in each direction accompanied by a turn lane) would create a bottleneck.
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Sonny Williams, who's owned the 104-year-old Highland Park Pharmacy for a decade, accused the council of cherry-picking traffic studies. "It's a feel-good proposal, in my opinion, for a group that does not care about Dallas' past or history," Williams said.
In spite of the business owners' qualms, the council seemed mostly pleased with the proposal. Jennifer Gates briefly lamented the use of 2012 bond money to pay for the project's $734,700 tab, but admitted that she looked forward to not having to pull out of parking spaces along the street blind, as she does now.
"You close your eyes and start backing up slowly and hope no one backs into you," she said, "but don't take your driving lessons from me."