The plan was to calm traffic, turn four narrow lanes into three wide ones.
“The facts demonstrate very clearly that it is about safety and it does reduce accidents,” says Christine Hensley, Des Moines City councilwoman.
Left over space allowed room for bike lanes. Somehow, that minor element became a major ordeal.
“I think one individual got wind that there were gonna be bike lanes,” says councilman, Skip Moore, “and they started spreading the word that this was all a bike lane issue and this was never meant to be a bike lane issue.”
“They like bikes more than business!” opponents cried, as the project became politicized. A local Republican has campaigned on the issue.
“Listen to ‘We The People’ that we really don’t want this project!” says David Edwards, who’s running for state senate seat in District 16.
The city gave up on efforts to explain that the bike lanes were not the main focus of restriping Hubbell, and today voted to send out a new bike lane-free proposal. But fears are that the well has been poisoned.
“You drop the bike lanes, you have the Hubbell Avenue restriping. The majority of people are still against that,” Edwards says. “It’s gonna be harder to enter traffic, it’s gonna be harder to get out there, accidents are gonna increase.”
Department of Transportation studies and data from multiple states say that isn’t true. Council members say they heard the same thing from naysayers when Ingersoll Avenue was restriped in 2010.
Now it’s a hit.
“It’s just not been a problem,” Hensley says, “and the feedback we get is extremely positive. And these are the same people that told me I was gonna be the one responsible for the blood on the streets.”
Moore says he understands many people don’t like change, but this is a legitimate problem.
“We’ve got a safety issue along that stretch of Hubbell and I think that one way or another, we’re gonna have to address it. So do we use state money to do it or do we start using our own money?”