Whoever was in charge of publicizing this project never, in anything I saw about it, mentioned the added pedestrian safety benefits; the opinion piece in the Democrat today does a great job of reminding everyone of the needs of pedestrians: It's progress, on two wheels Tennessee Street changes can make travel better for all It's the old saying: Everyone wants progress, but nobody wants change. So people ought to be applauding - not snorting - at the city's plan to create bus/bike only lanes on Tennessee Street from Ocala Road to Monroe Street. Reducing six lanes to four and using the other two for bus/bike-only lanes is a change. But it should make Tennessee Street a safer, less-congested road that encourages more bus and bike ridership. That would be progress. The state owns and maintains Tennessee Street, which is also U.S. Highway 90. But city and Florida State officials have sought changes since 1995, when a college student was struck by a car and killed as he tried to cross Tennessee Street. If it wasn't already evident, that incident underlined the dangers of a busy highway adjoining a major college campus. The city proposed the bus/bike lane concept as a pilot project when the state Department of Transportation announced plans to resurface Tennessee Street in 2014. The only "construction" involved is painting the outside lanes to show they're intended only for buses and bikes. Now was the time to test the bus/bike lanes to see if they should be incorporated into the resurfacing. The city will hold public meetings for six months, then submit the project to the DOT for approval. If approved, the lanes would be created in summer 2011. That would provide two full school years to gauge their success. "I think we can make a difference - and part of that is I don't see an alternative," said Gabe Menendez, the city's public works director. "Nobody in their right mind thinks Tennessee Street is not going to get more congested. All this is a way to reallocate space so we can get the most people moved through there." Seventy percent of FSU students live within a mile of campus. City officials believe a reserved lane would allow buses to move along Tennessee Street every 10 minutes and encourage more students to ride buses to campus rather than drive cars. They hope it also will encourage more students to ride bikes to campus and further reduce automobile congestion. But it's as much about safety as moving people. The sidewalk in many places on Tennessee Street is only four feet wide. Sidewalk pedestrians have been sideswiped by truck mirrors. In 1996, a pedestrian was killed when a car jumped a curb at Tennessee and Copeland. "This will create a buffer between moving traffic and the sidewalk," said Tampa bicycle and pedestrian consultant Bruce Landis. "That will benefit the pedestrians' comfort and safety." The plan calls for special striping and emblems that clearly identify the bus/bike lanes - and alert motorists not to drive in them. Cars, though, will be permitted to make right turns from the bus/bike lanes. Many other cities in the U.S. and Europe have instituted such bus/ bike lanes, as well as other measures aimed at making roads more welcoming to all modes of transportation. Tampa recently narrowed a section of busy Nebraska Avenue (U.S. 41) from four lanes to three lanes with wider bike lanes. Total vehicle collisions dropped from 174 per year to 45 per year, and vehicle collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists were practically eliminated. "Tallahassee's plan is really a hybrid," Landis said. "It's bringing in good aspects that have worked around the country." Critics sneer there will be bus-bike collisions in the new lanes. Bikers and engineers say the 10-minute spacing between buses plus frequent stops by buses leaves lots of time and room for bikers to safely travel. "I have ridden these kind of bike lanes in Germany and France and didn't find them hard to use," said Hans van Tol, chair of the local Committee for a Bikeable Community. "There's normally not too much conflict, and the moving speed (of buses and bikes) is about equal." Critics are certain losing two car lanes will bring traffic to a standstill. Yet, Menendez said a DOT study shows there will be no significant change in the traffic flow of Tennessee Street. And Tennessee Street already narrows from six lanes to four lanes at the east (Monroe) and west (Ocala) without bottlenecks. "The (bus/bike lanes) are a benefit - to motorists," said Chris Lacher, president of the Capital City Cyclists. "The cyclists and buses are not in the motorists' lanes." Critics say the pilot project represents "social engineering," as if there is something nefarious about encouraging more people to ride bikes and buses. But everyone pays taxes, and taxes pay for roads. The roads should be built to benefit everyone. "It is social engineering," van Tol said. "On the other hand, you can say a lot of road building is for cars. And building for cars is social engineering." So what the heck: Let's give progress a chance. _ Contact Senior Writer Gerald Ensley at (850) 599-2310 or gensley@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.