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Published October 04, 2010, 12:00 AM

Wagner: Converting one-ways bad for runners, bikes

A plan moving forward in Fargo would convert the downtown one-way streets and allow two-way traffic.

A plan moving forward in Fargo would convert the downtown one-way streets and allow two-way traffic.

The idea is that it will slow down traffic, giving more exposure to merchants, and help fuel development off of Broadway.

And there’s even a notion that the change would make downtown more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

It’s well-documented that Fargo isn’t a pedestrian friendly town. This plan would do nothing to change it.

In concept, it might sound great to bicyclists and others who believe two-way traffic, along with bike lanes, is needed on NP and First avenues.

While it is true the plan would slow down traffic, it won’t mean more business to downtown merchants. It means congestion, which in turn means motorists used to the efficiency of one-way driving will divert over to Main Avenue.

Ten days ago, a man called my phone to clarify details about an event originally planned for the Fargo Theatre. He and his wife would not be attending it because they avoid downtown at all costs. The one-way plan under consideration will not bring more people downtown, which already suffers from misperceptions about traffic.

This plan would take those misperceptions and cement them into reality when traffic backs up for blocks when delivery trucks stop and motorists turn left on Broadway.

And what about those bike lanes? That’s where the delivery trucks are going to park. If the city really wanted to put in bike lanes on the one-ways, they could do it now. The proposal won’t mean wider roads – it calls for cramming more into the existing space.

As a runner and pedestrian, downtown will be the last place I’ll want to be. I’d rather run along Interstate 94 – at least I could reasonably predict what is going to happen and react to it.

Instead, there appears to be serious momentum for a plan that will clog Fargo’s core, making it a place to avoid rather than a destination.

City officials say they’re still accepting comments on the plan. But unless enough people say they’re opposed, it’s going to be a lot harder for everyone – motorists, bicyclists, runners and pedestrians – to navigate downtown.

Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@forumcomm.com.