Scottsdale’s Not Going On a Diet: Road Diets are Ditched

As political commentators and pundits, we love a good spicy topic. There’s nothing like contention to bring in scores of people to otherwise sleepy city council meetings, to give impassioned speeches (or screeds), to beg, plea, shame and perform histrionic incantations to their leaders to attempt to get them on their side. It’s truly entertaining.

Those of us in Scottsdale have very few things to legitimately complain about; that’s why we’re so desirable, being pretty much at the top of the municipal version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. But every once in a while, the perfect storm arises…a minor issue with manages to inflame groups on both sides who otherwise don’t have much to battle about.

Enter “road diets”.

A “road diet” is, generally speaking, the condensing down of car traffic lanes in order to produce extra space for biking or walking. It was a hot-button issue last year, but at the moment, road diets are dead in Scottsdale.

While initially getting majority support in city council and ostensibly being something that recreational enthusiasts would appreciate, it quickly hit the buzzsaw of reality in Arizona: that this is a driving state, and impediment to the ability to drive is tantamount to infringing on 2nd amendment rights, and pushback was stiff. The cohort that is resistant to change is a strong one here (as it is for any area with a lot of retirees).

And just like that, political candidates and consultants alike are making mild adjustments to their election plans. Had this passed, it would have provided a foot in the door to take on the incumbents who supported it; now that ammunition is mostly dead. That’s not to say that one couldn’t make a point of mentioning that four out of seven members of the dais did originally vote in favor of it, the fact that it’s dead makes that attack angle less consequential.

While it is a relatively inconsequential subject, that alone is a positive thing. After all, many other cities have much more pressing issues to deal with, serious problems that demand the attention and best efforts of leadership. The fact that this is even an issue that we’re talking about is a good thing, because there’s not much scandal or chaos to cover.