|New bike lanes as reason to justify tree removal - Staff Report|
It also seems relevant that there are no bike lanes proposed for Division Street, where the trees are proposed to be removed. The bike lanes are actually on Liberty Street, a little distant from the trees in question. Removing trees on Division gains no space directly for any new proposed bike lanes. The relationship the City posits between tree removal and new bike lanes is much less direct.
So let's look at what appear to be a cascading set of changes just off Division Street. Because these changes affect other projects, they deserve more notice and analysis. The City has been very quiet about them. One of the biggest is extending two-way sections on Liberty and Division here. The Division Street bit seems unproblematic, but Liberty bit seems more complicated, and it impacts the Union Street greenway. The bike lanes on Liberty Street also terminate awkwardly and do not connect adequately with the wider network. Overall the project appears autoist, with bike travel very secondary and not at all integral.
Liberty at Union Street is very wide, but because of turn lanes and the parking garage, there are effectively only two travel lanes, and this makes the crossing distance much shorter than on Commercial. For a decade now Union Street bikeway/greenway concepts have used this slack to make it easier to cross Liberty here.
|Back in 2009 curb extensions seemed obvious|
|More recently, arrows show unused space|
|Big curb extensions for Liberty and Union Street (June, 2013)|
|The proposal makes Liberty more difficult to cross - Staff Report|
- Liberty Street is wider with more travel lanes, and there are no corner curb extensions now; crossing will be more difficult
- Union Street shows none of the traffic calming or other features for a Neighborhood Greenway
|The two-way concept here is for cars, not bikes|
|Bike lanes spring in and out of existence!|
The southbound bike lane on Liberty, then, is a two-block segment utterly disconnected from the rest of the bike network.
While the proposal to cut trees contains the words "new bike lanes," there is little about these bike lanes to make them greatly useful. They are Potemkin bike lanes, mainly for show and used instrumentally to greenwash other aspects of the project. This looks more like random bike lane striping than a part of any plan for enhanced bike connectivity downtown.
Altogether there is insufficient detail to support a trade-off of trees for bike lanes.
And anyway, this is not a trade-off we should ever generally want to make. If we want to increase our tree canopy, and decrease driving and the amount of subsidized space we allocate for car storage, the proper trade-off is to reduce parking for new bike lanes.
The Police Station project overall seems too independent of other transportation goals and projects and it needs more carefully to be knit into the wider projects for downtown mobility. At the very least, the City needs to publish an analysis for the traffic changes and not simply assert in breezy "building buzz" videos that they will be great.
Also in the meeting packet: