Ben Wear complains about the congestion on South Congress. What's notable is that he seems to accuse the city of intentionally fostering it:
SoCo has become SoSlo.
This is no accident. In fact, no accidents are part of the plan, from the city's point of view. That, and creating a "walkable" environment for the ever more popular dining and shopping district.
But at rush hour, for South Austinites heading into and out of downtown, the recent addition of three more traffic lights, bike lanes and copious reverse-angle parking from Live Oak Street to near the river has turned the area into the Mutter Mile. As in, muttering curses. And based on anecdotal accounts, it could be diverting traffic to other thoroughfares leading from the city's core to the south and southwest.
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This kind of article highlights some of the problems with the occasionally extreme rhetoric of "shared space" advocates, though. It encourages drivers to view any increase in congestion as the product of a radical, anti-driver conspiracy. And "congestion is a good thing" rhetoric is wrong, since the purpose of designing streets for pedestrians and cyclists as well as cars is not to increase congestion. On the contrary, there is some evidence that shared spaces reduce congestion. (The linked article by Tom Vanderbilt is worth reading in full.) Moreoer, congestion is bad for pedestrians as well as drivers because cars idling in traffic produce obnoxious fumes and pedestrians do not like to breathe obnoxious fumes.
Chris Bradford, Austin Contrarian, August 4, 2011