Saturday, April 30, 2005

Arkley's Buying Binge

More on Rob Arkley in this week's North Coast Journal. How much of Humboldt County will he own twenty years from now?

I agree with him that the government owns too much land already. One has to wonder, though, about his purchasing of the Dog Ranch, just across the Samoa Bridge on the peninsula. He says it's going to be "fenced off and not open to the public...". C'mon now, Rob! I believe it's actually private property now and isn't really open to the public in the conventional sense, but people can still wander around in there. At least I did some years ago and nobody got on my case. Is he really going to try and close it off to the public at large?

One of those strange conflicts with this Libertarian: I said many years ago how nice it was, when I was in the National Guard at annual training at Camp Roberts (CA), that the base was open to the public for some purposes, like hunting and fishing. If it was private ranch land, only a priveleged few would likely have access to it. So, in that case, government land benefits a potentially larger group of people than private land.

That said, we've seen more and more restrictions put on use of government land in the county, state and country and, if many on the Left had their way, restrictions would likely get much worse. More and more land will only be accessible to the young and healthy with backpacks. Of course, the Left will also try to further restrict access and use of privately owned land as well so I suppose it's best to opt for private control of as much land as possible since private control will likely be restricted less over time than government land.

Still leaves the question of access, though. If Arkley owned all the lands we currently designate as parks and the like, would he allow hiking, riding and fishing? I would think he might since he's sunk a lot of money into public facilities like the Eureka zoo and boardwalk. Only time will tell.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Pepper Spray Verdict In

The jury decides law enforcement used excessive force when using pepper spray against the anti logging protesters. Unbelievable? Probably not, as the plaitiffs were almost assured a biased, if not intellectually challenged, jury since it was in San Francisco. We should probably be surprised the other two trials ended up deadlocked. Still, I don't see how anyone could watch the entire film of the event(s) (which I have) and decided that was excessive force.

On the upside, the plaintiffs were only awarded damages of a dollar each and it might be that the defense attorneys will be hard pressed to get any of the million or so dollars they "spent" on the case back. I hope they get stiffed but we'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Fortuna Palco Mill Closing

Yet another lumber mill will be closing it's doors. One hundred and one workers losing their jobs. Palco says the closure is a result of an "unreliable supply of logs". I'm sure that's true.

The Left will likely blame this on some sort of corporate conspiracy on Palco's part, the Right will likely blame it on the anti business agenda of the lefty environmentalists and state government. I'll let them argue that issue.

But I won't let go this idea that some have around here of making up for the lost jobs by trying to encourage tourism- you keep hearing this floating around by people who think we can sustain our economy just by selling trinkets to tourists. If the real solid businesses in this country, like those in the timber industry, keep getting hit, there won't be anyone left in the country that can afford to be a tourist and those trinket sellers will be waiting quite some time for someone to sell their stuff to.

As an aside, I wonder how much effect the gas prices will have on tourism this year?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

More Disclosure Needed?

Assemblymember Patty Berg wants to close the loophole that allows people to run hit pieces on candidates without identifying themselves. This primarily a result of the last minute hit pieces that were mailed out against Chris Kerrigan in the last Eureka City Council race.

I'll have to say I find it cowardly that people send out criticisms of anyone when they won't identify themselves. But I wonder if such legislation is really necessary. We already have enough problems coming out of so called "campaign finance reform". What will be the unintended consequences of Berg's proposal?

Seems to me the folks who sent out the hit pieces in question might have done themselves more harm than good. Most folks seemed to think the race between Kerrigan and Bohn would be a close one. Turned out Kerrigan won by a pretty solid margin. Might the hit piece campaign backfired and had some people voting the other way because of the non disclosure on the part of the hit piece campaigners? I would think so although I suspect that the fact Rex Bohn is part of the management of Renner Petroleum would be a bigger factor in his loss than most suspect.

I say if people want disclosure and a certain campaign won't disclose, don't vote for them. That might be what's already happening, at least to some extent.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Helping Dogs

Met a girl, "Hippiemash", throught the Humboldt Freecycle web site. She wanted toys to help the dog in the yard next door to her house that was tied up much of the time. I suggested she visit the web site to get some suggestions on how to deal with such situations. She liked the site and is making efforts to improve the neighbor dog's conditions. She also wants to deal with a similar situation a little further from her house. Let's wish her luck.

I mentioned to her that maybe we need a local group. Maybe we already have one, though. I know there's a K-9 Angels group and their leader walks her dog by my house fairly often. I'll have to ask her next time she walks by just what the Angels do.

Another St. Joes Expansion

Interesting how so many hospitals around the state are having hard times, with some threateing to close their doors yet St. Joseph's Hospital, in Eureka, is gearing up for yet another expansion. I realize that doesn't necessarily mean they're rolling in cash and I know people have various complaints of one sort or the other against St. Josephs Health Care Systems (or whatever they're called). Seems to me maybe the other hospitals should take a look at St. Joes and maybe get some ideas on how to keep their systems up and running?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rumble In The Jungle

Received another action notice from the Redwood Peace and Justice Center in my e-mail this morning asking for supporters to show up at the courthouse today to support some guy that got arrested for tree sitting in the Freshwater area. Coincidentally, the Times Standard ran this article on the incident in question in today's paper.

Since I wasn't there, and won't be at the court house following the testimony, I'll withhold judgement on the issue of who brutalized who. I'll have to say, though, my sympathy is not with the tree sitters. Talk about anarchists...

Seems to me these folks think they should be able to do pretty much as they please and everyone's supposed to thank them for it. Some real tipsy turvy thinking on their part. They trespass and climb trees refusing to voluntarily come down. Then, when someone climbs up the tree to remove them, they're "being placed in danger by the extractors, brutalized, etc...". They seem to feel they're doing god's work. They deliberately make it extremely difficult for law enforcement or the timber companies to do their jobs, and then complain when someone takes action against them. Not at all unlike what's happening with the Pepper Spray Incident that's going through retrial right now.

If you're going to voluntarily break the law to protest, and even take it further by making it as difficult as possible for the "other side" to deal with you, fine, more power to you. But, when the other side does what they have to do, you should accept the consequences and stop the whining.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

What Was That You Said?

It never seems to end in this state. Now, the powers that be, want to throw more requirements on the folks who test your hearing and fit hearing aids. Not that that will help anything and will likely only make things worse since there appears to be a shortage of such specialists in this state in the first place.

It gets even better than that. Along that same line, some are now saying more educrats and education "leaders" should be required to have
doctorates in education. Just what we need: more education simply for education's sake. As with the audiologists proposal, the underlying motive in this one is to either line someone's own pockets or to further build one's own empire, as in the case of education.

It seems unstoppable. Whether by accident, design, or just government and "special interests" taking on a life of their own, it's true what a wise man once said: "When you give the government a hammer, soon everything starts looking like a nail.".

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Thompson Backs Bankruptcy Bill

Much to my surprise, Congressman Mike Thompson voted FOR the Bankruptcy Reform Bill. The President is supposedly waiting to sign it. Those on the Left are probably furious. I'm not really one way or the other but after thinking about the issue a bit, I supported it as well. Of course, you never know what unintended consequences will emerge from any legislation. Being forever skeptical, I suspect some bad things may arise from this legislation. That's to be expected.

That said, I think people should be responsible for their bills. You can't pile up a bunch of debt and then run to court and get out of paying what you owe. Remember, though, this just rearranges the way the bankruptcy laws are applied and some folks, especially around here, will still be afforded the old "protections". People need to be responsible for their debts.

And you're hearing that from someone who might well have had to file for bankruptcy about a year and a half ago but chose to not even consider it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Postal Problems

I guess I must be one of the few that hadn't really noticed any problems with delivery of snail mail around here lately. I have noticed the mail gets delivered at different times throughout the week unlike years ago when it seemed to usually come at the same time each day. I suppose I don't notice it much because I really don't rely on regular mail much anymore. I pay almost all my bills online and receive many of my bills through e-mail. The vast majority of my mail is junk mail.

The Post Office problems do bring out a point, though: How hard it is to change the status quo in government. Snail mail gets more and more expensive and less and less efficient. The cost of stamps will be going up again soon, from what I hear. All this for an archaic, inefficient agency that less and less people are relying on. Yet, no one in Congress wants to broach the subject of ending the USPS monopoly on the delivery of first class mail.

They really need to encourage alternative ways of delivering standard first class mail. I'm not even suggesting, as some have, that they "privatize" the mail service, although that's always an option. All congress need do is get rid of the law that prohibits delivery of non- urgent mail by private carriers. If I wanted to start Fred's Mail Service, I should be allowed to do so. If I fail to make the grade and go out of business, so be it. If no private entity wants to get in the mail delivery business, so be it, and the USPS keeps their monopoly.

Let's open up the mail business with competition and see if it can be improved that way.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Worker's Comp Rally

Just received an e-mail thru the Redwood Peace and Justice Center's Announcements list advising of a rally in Sacramento protesting the Governor's signing of legislation gutting "worker's rights". Rights, in this case, meaning right to Workmen's Compensation, or whatever.
I don't recall all the details of the legislation in question but I have a problem with the way State Disability and/ or Workmen's Comp actually works, and it's not in sympathy with these folks.

I have no problem with people being compensated for injuries received in the course of their employment. I'll have to say, though, in my entire life I can count on one hand the people I've personally known that have a legitimate work related injury. I've met dozens over the years that claim to have injuries and were living life as usual and, often, in very physical jobs.

Met a guy getting pemanent lifetime social security disability for a supposed bunch of bone problems yet he was working, under the table I assume, as A MAINTENANCE GARDENER! Just a couple months ago one of the other maintenance gardeners told me of a problem she had with one of her past employees: She was going to write all her tax info down but found she couldn't list this employee's salary cause he was on disability and it would "screw his disability up if they find out...". I could go on and on about the people and cases I've known like that. The vast majority of disability cases, in my opinion, consist of just such scams.

That's not to say there aren't a number of legitimate claims, but most aren't. I don't have a problem with deserved compensation but the fraud in the system is running the current system into the ground. I suspect even the people holding the rally in Sacramento would like to see the fraud eliminated, although they'd disagree on the extent that fraud exists. Something needs to be done but I wonder if the problem is fixable.

Friday, April 15, 2005


I happened to be thumbing through the February issue of the Libertarian Party News and came upon this letter in the Letters To The Editor section. The writer makes a somewhat compelling argument against libertarian and/ third party support for Instant Runoff Voting. In short, he suggests that IRV will make third parties even less relevant since they aren't likely to win, anyway, and their votes just end up going to Republicans and Democrats in the end. We won't have the pleasure of playing the role of Spoiler.

I've always hated it when some libertarians gloat about throwing a race because we took enough votes from a candidate to make the difference in a race. But that assumes we can say for sure where the libertarian votes would have gone had there not been an LPer in the race. Some Libs might not vote at all, myself included. For instance, I didn't vote in the last congressional race. No LP candidate. Not all that fond of Mike Thompson and definitely didn't like the Republican, Lawrence Weisner. I was about tempted to vote for perpetual Lefty candidate, Pam Elizondo(sic?), now of the Green Party if for no other reason than anyone who shows up at a candidate forum wearing a t- shirt deserves some support (I hate those suits and ties). But I chose not to vote at all in that one.

Some Libs lean toward the Left, some toward the Right. I'll admit many might well be tempted to vote Republican but I would think that would depend on the area of the country one is in. Seems to me the only way to find out for sure, is with IRV. As far as third parties being made less relevant with IRV, we're already irrelevant and there is the school of thought that third parties would be made more relevant by using IRV. Who knows?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ballot Initiatives

The local Democratic Central Committee has decided it wants to "reform" the way initiatives make it to the ballot. They want to outlaw paid signature gatherers claiming that they taint the process and allow "the rich" to use the initiative process to their advantage. That is partly true although I find it amusing they suggest that it's always for some nefarious (and I would assume Republican) purpose, not bringing up the number of Democrat supported ballot initiatives that have been financed by "the rich", Rob Reiner's tobbaco tax, Prop 10, being one that comes to mind and that Stem Cell Research initiative on the last ballot being another one. The Stem Cell Research bond measure being financed by Silicon Valley millionaires, some of who directly benefited from that measure.

I'll have to agree with Republican Party Chair, Lori Metheny: This is more of a case of the pot calling the kettle black and, more than anything else, just a way to attack the current Governor since he's planning on using the initiative system to bypass the legislature for some fundamental government reforms.

I'm no greater a fan of the initiative process than I am of democracy in general. Good or bad can result from either. The state owes much of its debt, not just to the state legislature, but to voters who keep passing bond issues for one reason or the other through ballot initiatives. And let's not even mention taxes being raised, minorities being beaten up, and other bad things that happen through the ballot box.

As for me, I always vote each election if only to vote on the ballot initiatives. If an initiative costs you, me or someone else money, or restricts your freedom in some way, I vote against it. If it increases freedom or keeps more money in your pockets, I vote for it. Makes it pretty simple, doesn't it? It would be nice if everybody did the same.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Arkley Responds

So Rob Arkley responds to my e-mail asking him to reconsider his opposition to Ranked Choice Voting. I get the feeling he didn't read the whole e-mail, if any of it. He accuses me of being an "extreme left winger" saying that I hate capitalism and corporations, and so on. Maybe he just read the first few lines and is confusing me with someone else? I don't know. Funny how some on the Left, who don't know that much about Libertarians either, often call Libertarians "extreme right wingers".

Seems to be an emerging strategy amongst some Republicans up here: Focus on calling everyone a commie or socialist. That should win some hearts and minds, whether the accusation is true or not, huh? I like my strategy better, that being supporting anyone or any group that has a good idea that will move us closer to a free society.

As I mentioned to Rob Arkley, in my response to him, libertarians tend to think the political spectrum is a little more complex than just Left or Right. To find out where you stand, try taking the World's Smallest Political Quiz at the Advocates for Self Government web page.

Republicans, Rob Arkley and RCV

Only sketchy info on this, so far, but it seems some prominent local Republicans- Mike Harvey and Rob Arkley- are opposed to the idea of bringing Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), also known as Instant Runoff Voting, to Humboldt County. From what little I've seen, their opposition seems to center on the fact that the idea is being proposed mostly by "extreme leftists". While that may be at least partially true, I see no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.

As a Libertarian, I tend to see myself outside of the partisan battles that the Left and Right involve themselves in. I can oppose or support any issue from any side of the aisle as long as it's consistent in increasing or maintaining individual liberty. I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see people runnning down other's ideas simply because of what side of the aisle they're on. I suppose I mostly laugh because it seems, too often, they get more involved in the partisan battle itself, than the issue at hand and it just seems silly.

I would think RCV would appeal to people from all sides since they could really vote for whom they want without the "wasted vote" syndrome making them vote for someone just cause they think they have the best chance of winning. There's certainly no guarantee what the results of such elections would be. Might not really change much, from a Libertarian standpoint. But, it still seems to be a better way to hold elections than the way we do it now.

That said, I've always maintained that the way elections are held isn't really a Libertarian issue. Sure, everyone (well most folks, anyway) wants clean and fair elections. But I think a Libertarian should be more concerned with what politicians do TO us AFTER they're elected rather than the election process itself.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Looks like the pro- fluoride forces have started a letter writing campaign, from the looks of the Times- Standard letters section. A number of people have written in saying that fluoride should keep being added to Arcata’s water supply. I find it frightening that so many people accept the idea that any group of people should be able to tell others what should be in their water.

The anti- fluoride forces don’t seem much better as most of them seem to just want any additives to the water supply to be approved by the EPA (or was it FDA?). I really don’t care whether the EPA approves the use of a substance or not. People shouldn’t have to buy bottled water or an expensive water filter to get the kind of water they’re comfortable drinking. To paraphrase one Lefty in Arcata, "government should be responsible for providing potable water, and that’s it…". I’m not so sure that government’s job necessarily includes providing water but, assuming it does, I agree.

It’s sad to see so many accepting the concept of forced, mass medication. Apparently, many of the players in this debate don’t consider how they’d feel if the tables were turned and the government decided to add something to their water they disapprove of . Remember, when you give government the power to give you everything you want, you also give it the power to take it all away. The "We Know What’s Best For You" sword can strike both ways.

If you’re doing something to me for my own good, PLEASE STOP! Fluoride should be a matter of individual choice.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

State Pension Reform

I was sorry to see the Governator drop his current effort at state employee pension reform although the issue certainly hasn't been dropped entirely and may come back as a ballot issue next year. Probably just as well, though, as there were some differences of opinion as to just how far his reform would go. That did need to be cleared up. One thing for certain: Arnold now sees just how hard it is to reform a state controlled pretty much by government employee unions.

If you haven't heard the details of the problems with state government pensions (and this applies to many of our local government employees as well), check out this commentary in the Orange County Register.

New Courthouse Security Measures

Looks like the County Courthouse will be going the same way as the nation's airports: metal detector screening upon entering. What really gets me about this is what got this all started in the first place: An incident in another county jail of an inmate grabbing a gun from a deputy and killing some people.

I'm not saying security shouldn't be a concern at the courthouse and at least it looks like private security personnel will be performing the screening operation, for the most part. I just wonder how much improvement there might be among the firearm retention capabilities among law enforcement in the courthouse- the type of incident that caused this screening to come about to begin with?

I always end up with at least a slight headache the few times I've ended up going to the courthouse, for whatever reason. Looks like that's not likely to ever go away now and might even get worse.

Friday, April 08, 2005

County Redevelopment Agency

Kudos to David Elsebusch for his My Word column that appeared in today's Times Standard dealing with the County Redevelopment Agency.

I've always had suspicions about redevelopment but, despite being a Libertarian, am not sure just what role government should have in "eliminating blight". Seems to me you can paint an old worn out building and put new carpet inside and it's still going to be an old worn out building with fresh paint and new carpeting. Kinda like the new boardwalk in Eureka: Millions are spent on the new boardwalk in an attempt to make Old Town more appealing. Problem is, Old Town still is one of the centers for the local low lifes and it doesn't take long for graffitti, vandalism and trash dumping to take its toll on the boardwalk.

The City of Eureka has installed brick round outs(?), I think that's what they're called, on a number of intersections on Wabash Avenue. Sure, they look real nice but the same people still live in the area and it will likely always remain what I consider a blighted area. So, I have concerns about government efforts to eliminate blight and really question the way the County Redevelopment Agency is set up and the way it operates.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Garberville Anti Tax Protest- April 15

How nice to see the Lefty anti war folks- at least I assume it will be mostly Lefties since it's oriented towards anti war issues- planning a protest against taxes on April 15 in Garberville(Noon Friday under the clock, if you haven't heard yet).Unlike the typical libertarian oriented tax protests held around the country, this one focuses on things like half of every tax dollar being spent for military purposes instead of social programs. It's a good start, though, for the Left. It seems more and more from the Left are starting to realize, as a wise man once said, that when you give government the power to give you everything you want, you're also giving it the power to take it all away.

So it goes with taxes: While it may seem great to rip taxes off from groups you don't like, and spend the money on things you do like, it sucks to have the tables turned on you when someone else has control of the purse strings. Let's hope the trend continues and more from the Left (and the Right) learn that it's best when you have control of your own money so you can spend it on the things you think are important. The only real way to do that, though, is to let everyone else keep their own money to spend as they please. Kinda like that Libertarian saying goes: "Liberty is something you'll never really have yourself, unless you're willing to give it to everyone else.".

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Help The Dogs

Just bumped onto this web site and thought I'd give it a plug. I'm not an animal rights activist, in the normal sense of the term, but I am offended by animals being treated improperly. There's some cases of local dog owners that really make my blood boil. One that comes to mind being half a block from my own house. Anyway, Unchain Your Dog is a really touching site and quite well done, imho. Spread the word folks!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Pepper Spray Retrial Coming Up

Yet another retrial of the famous "Pepper Spray Incident" will begin in a week or so. We’ve been through this twice already and I can’t help but wonder: If you’ve already had two hung juries maybe we should just drop the subject and let bygones be bygones? But, I guess that’s not the way it works especially with plaintiffs and their lawyers in pursuit of the big money.

Libertarians, more than anyone, are concerned about excessive force being used by government but I don’t think the use of pepper spray in the incident that brought about this trial was excessive force. The protesters knew what they were getting themselves into, were warned about what was going to happen and refused to remove themselves from the premises [even after pepper spray was used]. The deputies that applied the spray were exposed to it themselves (and I don't see them suing anyone). You can tell just from watching the video. And, if you watch the video of the entire affair from start to finish, which I have, you’ll see the police bending over backwards, imo, trying to talk the protesters into giving up before force of any kind was used. You’ll also see, after the protesters are removed and arrested, the protesters joking a bit with the deputies before they were taken to jail. No harm done the way I see it, at least by law enforcement.

Sure, there were all kinds of options law enforcement could have used to remove the protestors. They chose pepper spray, among others. Libertarians had some heated discussions about what options should have been used with much disagreement. I didn’t see a problem with the pepper spray. I find it interesting that one Libertarian from Orange County insisted pepper spray was excessive force but still believes we were perfectly justified in invading Iraq. Gotta love the diversity in the LP.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Local Papers: Left or Right?

Am I the only one that thinks the Times- Standard's reporting seems to have shifted to the left in the last few months? Seems like a great deal of their coverage involves the Greens or some other Left wing group or subject. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that. Heck, I'm glad to see the coverage of the NORML meeting in San Francisco, but I'll bet you that coverage wouldn't have been in the paper a year ago.

Papers should be able to write about whatever they want, however they want. But I just noticed in today's T-S a page two article on local Green, David Cobb. Seemed to me to be a non- story after reading it but they had it on the top fold of page two with a pretty large headline. Maybe it was just a slow news day?

I've actually found many people accuse papers of left or right bias just because the paper doesn't write the news the way they want it written. I remember reading an e-mail discussion on the Redwood Peace and Justice Center e- mail list where it seemed some were complaining about an article on Democracy Unlimited by the Times Standard. Heck, they gave DU over half a page with only a couple comments from those criticizing DU. I thought, if anything, it was mostly positive.

But, The T-S does seem to have leaned more toward the left as of late. I told the editor of the T-S some time ago that they definitely leaned toward the Left if only because of their editorials and their ballot recommendations around election time but thought, at the time, it didn't seem to affect their general reporting a whole lot. They have had a thing about Libertarians at times, though. I remember a few years ago, when they published the results of a primary election, they had the results of every race, even uncontested ones, except for the Libertarian Party results. But, later on, when our candidate went to them asking for an interview, they gave him (and a little bit of me) a top notch story on the top fold of page one of the Sunday paper. I had to thank them for that.

Other local papers might have their own leanings as well: The Eureka Reporter certainly leans toward the Right, if only because of their ballot recommendations- straight Republican- but they give space to writers of opposing opinions as well.

The North Coast Journal is one of my favorites, if only because I think they give pretty even sided coverage of issues, albeit not many issues. I'm not interested in the arts and entertainment stuff that predominates the NC Journal but the local news and issues coverage is the best and, I feel, very unbiased despite being a publication oriented toward the Left.

The Humboldt Beacon seems pretty even sided, the few times I've read it. I haven't subscribed to it for some time though.

I was just made aware a couple months ago of "The Advocate" newspaper. Despite one of their main reporters (Charles Douglas) being one of the Green Party big wigs around here, the paper seems pretty even handed in their reporting, although I've only read maybe three issues of it. They even invited me to write a column or two for their paper. In fact, that was one of a number of reasons I started this blog: to get used to writing more often and hopefully come up with something, even if by accident, that someone might actually want to read.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Street Conversions

I read somewhere recently that there was some talk of converting H and I Streets, in Eureka, which have been one way streets for time immemorial, into two way streets. Not sure where I heard it but it might have been something in the Eureka Reporter that Nancy Flemming said. Are they talking about doing that in any other towns around here?

So, just by chance, I receive a commentary on such plans via the National Center for Policy Analysis' e- newsletter and tried to forward it to a couple folks on the Eureka City Council but the e-mail is bounced three times with the message that their spam filter blocked it. Oh well, maybe I'll just FAX it to them. Below is the brief I received from NCPA. To summarize, while it may reduce traffic converting to two way, traffic accidents increase. I think I'd prefer fewer accidents over slower or less traffic. Besides, if something already works, why try and fix it?

From the NCPA:

Urban planners in Denver, as well as other major cities, are implementing a controversial measure designed to slow traffic and reduce accidents: converting one-way streets into two-way streets. The plan runs counter to the consensus of traffic engineers and experience, says transportation engineer Michael Cunneen and economist Randal O'Toole. In fact, two-way streets increase traffic congestion, increase accidents and make pedestrians less safe.

In Denver, two one-way streets have already been converted: Grant and Logan, which used to carry about 7,000 cars per day now carry only 600 and 11,600 cars per day, angering nearby residents.

In Lubbock several one-way streets were converted to two-way in 1996; as a result, traffic on those streets dropped by 12 percent, but accidents increased by 25 percent.

In 1993, Indianapolis converted a major one-way thoroughfare into a two-way street; accidents increased by 33 percent.

Moreover, pedestrians have to worry about crossing lanes of traffic coming in opposite directions, adding to their risk as well. On the other hand, converting two-way streets to one-way streets reduces congestion and decreases accidents:

One study indicates that traffic speeds increase on one-way streets by 37 percent, but with a 38-percent decrease in accidents.

In several Oregon cities, converting two-way streets to one-way streets led to 23 percent more traffic but 10 percent fewer accidents, meaning the accident rate per million vehicle miles declined by 27 percent.

Despite overwhelming evidence against converting one-way streets, city officials in Austin, Tampa, Seattle and other cities are considering such plans, which cost millions of dollars to implement.

Source: Michael Cunneen and Randal O'Toole, "No Two Ways About It: One-Way Streets Are Better Than Two-Way," Center for the American Dream, Issue paper2-2005, February 2005. For text: For more on State and Local Regulations: