Friday, February 08, 2008

Do one-way streets kill cities?

In a Louisville Courier-Journal op-ed, Matt Hanka and John Gilderbloom say that one-way streets are bad for pedestrians (because cars go faster on them), bad for businesses (fewer potential customers go by), and bad for homeowners (because they lower property values). They also say that one-ways can cause more crime:

One-way streets also create greater opportunities for crime in urban areas. Having one-way traffic reduces overall use, allowing for negative vacuums to be created. One-way streets are the gun, drug and sex distribution centers for a city.

Why? You need a two- or three-lane one-way street where you can pause to negotiate the deal and get out of there quickly. You can't do that on a two-way street because it slows down traffic. That's why the one-way two/three-lane street works best for pimps, drive-by shootings and drug dealers. If you break the law, it's better to drive 50 mph on a one-way with no obstacles.

I now live on a one-way street, and I don't feel unsafe (maybe because it's not a throughway), but the lack of activity at night is a bit spooky. And the two things I remember from several trips to downtown Lynn were that the place was practically deserted and that almost every street seemed to be one-way. Then again, one-way streets don't seem to put a damper on life in New York City.

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