Friday, March 15, 2013

Downtown Mobility Study Suggests Opening Crosswalks and Closing Double Turn Lanes

One of the elements of the Downtown Mobility Study is an assessment of the many dual-turn lanes downtown.

Dual Turns proposed for deletion in green!
For people on foot in a marked crosswalk, the side-by-side turn lanes create lots of extra danger. Unmarked crosswalks across dual turn lanes are often closed, forcing people on foot to make a three-movement crossing instead of one.  Dual turns are terrible, and should disappear!

Fortunately, they are less of a factor for people on bike.*

Right hook conflict because of bike lane, median, and dual-turn lanes
One intersection in particular, though, is terrible for people on bike, and it has a bike lane.  It was great to see the dual turn lane proposed for deletion!

Summer Street at Marion has a bike lane going south, but you get stuck in between two lanes in a paired set of turn lanes. Drivers are especially bad here about looking for people on bike on their right. Typically, they are looking left at on-coming traffic on Marion, and then fail to yield to people in the bike lane proceeding straight.

It's just right-hook bait, dangerous and annoying. (It's doubly annoying because on bike you've already had to merge left across the beginning of the first right-turn only lane, and drivers sometimes cut you off there.  And then you have to face the prospect again of a right-hook, not even a half-block down!)

Proposed Solution deletes turn and extends median
The project team proposes to close the outer turn lane and make it a straight through-lane! The median would also be extended for people on foot, and the intersection would get a whole lot easier.

The dual turn treatments were not pictured with proposed treatments at the first open house, so this was great to see for the first time.  And there's quite a number of proposed closures.

The full posters, as well as comment forms, have been posted at the project site, so be sure to check out the others!

*Chiefly because they are nearly mutually exclusive with bike lanes: they don't exist where there are bike lanes; and where they exist, there are no bike lanes.  But this means that if you are biking where there are dual turn lanes, you are biking "vehicularly"; and that means you're pretty confident on bike.  Eliminating dual turns will improve things for people on bike, but won't materially improve things for people who aren't already confident in busy traffic.  The move won't eliminate barriers for new riders or for those who ask reasonably for comfortable facilities downtown.   

Moving out to consider all the projects, even if the maximum envisioned in this study were implemented all at once, it still wouldn't make downtown itself "family-friendly" for all levels of cycling skill.

At the same time, the dual turn lanes are really lousy for people on foot, and to see a proposal that closes so many is real progress and would represent a substantial improvement.

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