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Falling Asleep at the Wheel? Not Quite

(Photo courtesy of Tower Theatre)

So here's the story: Apparently the driver's breaks went out and I'm told he decided driving on the sidewalk was a better option than rear-ending the car ahead. He jumped the curb in front of Atomic Lotus Tattoo and was on the sidewalk for about 150 feet before he got wedged between the light pole and the Tower Theatre. This is a sidewalk that is increasingly popular with pedestrians. 

So we got lucky. The sidewalk was empty. But despite a lowered speed limit and a protected crossing, we still have more than 20,000 vehicles a day racing along NW 23 in Uptown. And yeah, they're racing, a lot of them are at least, paying no attention to the speed limit.

Maybe it's time for a road diet. Maybe it's time to purposely create a road that prompts drivers to seek alternative routes. We have streets like this right now - corridors that carry thousands of cars but narrow down due to historic development patterns.

Britton Road starts off with more than 21,000 vehicles a day driving east from the Lake Hefner Parkway, but that number drops to about 14,000 once the street drops to a two-lane road with a center turn lane. Once the street returns to four lanes, the traffic count increases again.

So can NW 23 be narrowed down? I don't know. Can some intersections be converted into four-way stops? Probably. Engineers won't like this discussion. They want traffic to flow fast and free. But at what point do we suggest that by only rating a road for drivers, traffic engineers may be the folks who are asleep at the wheel?

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›