One-Way Streets Can Actually Be More Dangerous

The roads may provide a haven for crime: researchers
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2015 9:19 AM CDT
One-Way Streets Can Actually Be More Dangerous
A car drives down Tenth Street in n Lake Oswego, Ore., Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. Forecasters say temperatures are staying too high to generate the heavy snowfall that had been expected Thursday in the Portland-Vancouver area and the Columbia Gorge.   (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Randy L. Rasmussen)

Turns out one-way streets may make neighborhoods more dangerous—and in some cases, it's not because of the traffic itself. Researchers who have studied cities across the country are pointing to a possible risk of higher crime on one-way streets with two lanes, as compared to two-way streets. For one thing, two-way streets often get more traffic, which means more people around, which can put off would-be criminals, the Washington Post reports. Then there's the fact that it's just easier to make an illicit deal on a two-lane road going one direction: "If there are two or more lanes, a person can just pull over and make a deal, while other traffic can easily pass them by," researcher John Gilderbloom tells the Post.

Indeed, in Louisville, when a pair of streets were switched from one-way to two-way, crime fell by about 25%—even as crime in the city overall rose. There were traffic benefits, too: Collisions decreased by 60% on one of these streets and by 36% along the other. That may have to do with the fact that people drive more slowly on two-way streets than they do on wide one-way thoroughfares. In a call for turning downtown one-way streets to two-way, via the University of Louisville, Gilderbloom doesn't hold back, noting that the streets "pose many threats for pedestrian and motorist safety, make city streets seem less safe, disproportionately impact poor and minority neighborhoods, hurt downtown businesses," and "reduce the property values of homes." He also notes that cities including Miami, Dallas, and Minneapolis have already taken action. (Last year, a Google car fell victim to the perils of a one-way street.)

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