South Lake Union is swelling with tech workers, construction, and vehicles. It has added up to some of the worst traffic in the city. So why not just ban cars?
That’s the idea posed by Danny Westneat with The Seattle Times. Seattle would take a 30-block section of South Lake Union and ban cars. It’s an idea that KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney thinks is worth studying.
“I love this idea … Danny Westneat acknowledges that this is a wacky idea, but it comes on the heels of new evidence that the new streetcar line we are putting in may be more expensive than we thought,” Tom said.
Seattle is already considering removing a lane of vehicle traffic to lessen competition for the streetcar line. Why not just eliminate all the cars and say “problem solved?”
As Westneat puts it:
Let’s ban cars from South Lake Union altogether. Seriously: Seattle’s glittering new neighborhood has grown so fast it’s choking on itself. It’s got the Mercer Mess and the Denny Disaster for the cars. But between those two quagmires, there now are so many thousands of blue-badged pedestrians ambling about with their phones that it’s increasingly difficult to drive through anyway.
South Lake Union car ban
It’s been done in many European cities. Why not Seattle?
“When you decide to eliminate cars from an area, you haven’t actually eliminated cars,” KIRO Radio’s Mike Lewis said. “Where are those cars going to be staged?
“I would be hesitant to aspire to anything that gets you closer to Italian traffic,” he said. “I’ve spent some time backpacking there.”
Lewis notes that in cities that have successfully removed cars from areas, such as London, they usually also have terrific mass transit systems. Not just streetcars, but subway systems.
“Even in Italy you will find better subway systems than anywhere in the United States,” Lewis said. “So yeah, when we get those subway systems, I think it would be a dynamite thing to have in South Lake Union.”
“Trying to improve the flow of traffic down there by making more adjustment to the signals isn’t going to help anything,” he added. “We are putting a bunch of people down there. And the way we need to solve that is through … maybe jetpacks? Or actually, quality mass transit.”