What I would normally expect to be a low-profile community traffic study has turned into a divisive issue.
West Broad Street is 60 feet wide and currently has three ten-foot lanes in each direction. Transportation consultant Transystems has proposed changing the lane configuration on Broad Street to one eastbound lane, two westbound lanes, a center turn lane, bike lanes in each direction, and parking on the south side of the street.
The center turn lane is a safety improvement that should also improve pedestrian accessibility. Fewer traffic lanes should reduce travel speeds, which also improves safety for all roadway users. The bike lanes would have been consistent with the Bicentennial Bikeways Master Plan and the City of Columbus’ complete streets policy. Traffic simulation models showed that the lane reduction would still accommodate cars at an acceptable level of service (LOS). I think the proposal is a pretty nice balance of all transportation modes’ needs.
Although residents appear to be mostly in favor of the proposal, it sounds like concerns from business owners about parking has killed the issue for now. It doesn’t help that some bike advocates are also opposed to bike lanes based on principle. I posted my opinion on the “vehicular cycling” philosophy here. You can read more about the meeting below:
Hilltop Commission meeting recommends no new bike lanes
December 2, 10:16 AM
Columbus Alternative Transportation Examiner
The hot topic at Columbus’s Hilltop Area Commission meeting last night was the possible installation of bike lanes and the removal of a parking lane on West Broad in the Hilltop neighborhood. As discussed in the Columbus Dispatch on Monday, the suggestion was supported by a majority of residents but widely disliked by business owners.
The commission voted to recommend that no bike lanes be added and that street parking be retained on both sides of West Broad.
Many residents were supportive of the proposal to add bike lanes to add bike lanes along W. Broad east of Hague Avenue between Harris and Clarendon Avenues, and to remove car parking along the south side of Broad in that area. But area business owners have negative impressions of anything that is going to remove parking, assuming that will also mean a loss of customers.
Based on the vote against bike lanes I expect that West Broad will instead look like this alternate proposal for parking on both sides.
I personally don’t think this will attract many new cyclists. Going eastbound you’d be sharing a single 12-foot wide lane with a high volume of traffic. Going westbound is a little better since cars can pass, but new cyclists are often uncomfortable taking the whole lane, which is what is required in order to avoid the door zone in a 12-foot wide lane next to on-street parking.
In this CU Discussion, I posted a comment about what is called a floating bike lane. This concept has been successfully implemented in San Francisco on the Embarcadero. I think it would work great on Broad, although the markings in SF are a little funky and I might prefer something like this:
My concept allows for parking on both sides of the street except during rush hours, which should satisfy the business owners. It maintains two lanes of traffic in either direction during rush hours and one during off-peak periods, which should keep ODOT and motorists happy. Lastly, it creates bike lanes or a space equivalent for bike lanes at all times, which should satisfy residents and some cycling advocates.
If the vehicular cycling advocates are adament that there not be bike markings (they will be, the question is really if we care), then the design below could be used. It still provides space for the cyclists, but doesn’t mark the space with bike symbols and arrows. Not marking the curb lane as a bike lane could also reduce confusion for parkers, but would probably not attract as many cyclists.
What do you think? Who likes the floating bike lane?