Friday, February 25, 2011

On Kuebler Project, Lone Oak Crossing Deserves More Love

Kuebler Boulevard's a tough nut to crack. On the one hand it's set up to be a parkway. Next to an interstate or other freeway it's the most auto-centric kind of road we have. The Transportation System Plan defines it as a
High capacity, high speed, roadway that primarily serves regional and intracity travel.
There are no driveways, no businesses fronting it, and it leads only through, never to anywhere. It doesn't do much more than pretend to be multi-modal; it's designed for single use.

At the same time, because Kuebler cuts off streets and disconnects neighborhoods, people on foot and on bike might have to use it. There might be no other way to get there.

So it has to be a little multi-modal.

Then what kinds of facilities for people who walk and bike are appropriate and really useful to significant numbers of people? And when the road is deficient, as it most certainly is, how cranky do you get? Solutions need deep, structural thinking, and paint or dainty squirts of concrete cake decoration won't solve the connectivity problems. So it's probably not worth getting too upset over in the near term. There's no low-hanging fruit here.

This is the general striping plan for Kuebler on the section for this summer. Six-foot bike lanes and transitions across right-turn lanes. Standard stuff. Meets current engineering standards (though the 2010 draft AASHTO Bike Guide recommends wider lanes on "high speed" and "high volume" roadways, p. 72), but really addresses needs of only confident cyclists. These are not facilities that will attract new people to bicycling or will make families feel comfortable going by bike.

The intersection at Lone Oak is more interesting. (This picture is rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise, so north is to the left.)

Lone oak connects to several schools and is striped with bike lanes on the north side of the intersection. It is also the best lowish-traffic north-south connector across Kueber.

Kuebler here is about 90 feet from curb-to-curb and adding in sidewalks and crosswalks the crossing distance is well over 100 feet. This is a long intersection.

All of the other crossings of Kuebler are very busy: Skyline, Liberty, Sunnyside, Commercial, and Battle Creek, rated "arterial" or more. As the only "collector" street, Lone Oak should get more attention to make it more comfortable for people on foot and on bike.

This intersection deserves additional treatments so that kids and families who wish to walk and bike across Kuebler have a more inviting and comfortable crossing.


Kelly Carlisle said...

Eric, I appreciate your final assertion, as well as the thorough understanding you give to readers about the Kuebler widening project.
It leaves me a bit puzzled about why this project is apparently not seen as an opportunity to start achieving the goals of the bicycle and pedestrian elements of the city's Transportation Safety Plan. Is it just bad timing? Plans too far underway to make changes now?
To be honest, it's more than a little disappointing.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Public servants will tell you, "the plan's not adopted yet." Because it's not yet adopted, concurrent planning efforts do not have to take into account what might be going on in the office next door. I see this often.

But even when something's adopted, without constant pressure, things don't happen. Here are three choice quotes from the existing and fully adopted plan:

"The City shall actively pursue a comprehensive system of bicycle facilities through designing and constructing projects, as resources are available, and implementing standards and regulations designed to eliminate barriers to bicycle travel."

"The City will seek to triple the percent modal share made by bicycles by the Year 2015 by fostering an environment that eliminates deterrents to bicycling and encourages bicycle use citywide for all types of trips."

"Recognizing that a completed system of bicycle facilities is one of the most important
factors in encouraging bicycle travel, the City will work toward annually completing a minimum 5 percent of the bicycle system, as designated on the Bicycle Route and Facility System Map, with priority given to projects that fill a missing link in the bicycle system or address an identified safety hazard."

Even these aren't being adequately implemented.

Across the board the City has a pattern of choosing minimal bike progress instead of maximal. They don't see the bike/ped plan update as an opportunity to start making a down payment. We may be "bronze," but there's so much more that could be done!

Let your city councilor know that bikes and bike facilities are important to you!