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After implementing a controversial road diet, the city of Lakeland, Florida has seen a 12% drop in crashes in the area, reports Staci DaSilva for WFLA. Last September, the city reduced one mile of South Florida Avenue to three lanes (down from four) and widened the remaining lanes to the industry-standard 11 feet, placing temporary concrete buffers between the sidewalk and traffic lanes.
Some local business owners have expressed disapproval for the redesigned street, claiming that they are losing customers frustrated by increased congestion and expressing concern about access for emergency vehicles. City officials say that, according to the data, the road diet has only added an average of 60 seconds to the time it takes to traverse the affected stretch of road, and the number of vehicles passing through the area on a daily basis hasn't changed. Other locals support the project, arguing that "the new setup is not only safer, but actually good for business." In a phenomenon dubbed "good congestion," a mild slowdown "allows drivers to pay attention to local storefronts."
The city will accept public suggestions for how to utilize the buffer space and make the changes permanent.