How Can We Fix the City’s Plan to Ensure a Safe Route for All?

As we already discussed, the city has a plan for bike lanes on the Right Side, but there are some problems with the plan.  Ideally, we can come up with an option to improve the plans that is feasible and can be augmented in the future.  The first question is where to put it. Once we have that figured out, we have to figure out the possible designs.

Where Can We Add a North-South Bike Lane?

So, what are our options for location? There aren’t many: the Right Side suffers from a lack of north-south connections given our canyons.  Here is the map of planned routes again:

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As we talked about in a previous post, 28th Street doesn’t work because it’s interrupted by a canyon. 32nd Street works in the north, but it’s so narrow that adding bike lanes would require closing it down to cars. Even we aren’t so crazy to suggest that would be a good plan. All the way to the east is Boundary Street, but that’s pretty out of the way.

Eliminating the impossible or impracticable leaves us with only one good option for getting all the way from north to south and across Switzer Canyon: 30th Street, where the city is already planning to build (unsafe) bike routes and which the city identified as a high-demand corridor in the bike master plan.

If you think about it, 30th Street is perfect: it has the benefit on being one of our main streets and already having some bike lanes, starting at Ash up to Elm Street, with plans already to extend those up to Juniper Street. It also works with minimal interruption for the middle of our neighborhood: there is no need for parking on the long section over Switzer Canyon because no one stops there other than to store a car for too long.  If we want a north-south lane, the only viable option is 30th Street.

How Should We Design the 30th Street Bike Lane?

Let’s go back to the current guidance for designing bike lanes from an upcoming “AASHTO” guide:

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 2.13.42 PM

For 30th Street, where there are about 9,000 cars a day going 35 mph, we are solidly in the “separated bike lane” territory.  The problem for 30th Street south of Upas is its narrowness, with only about 40 feet of roadway.  The Community Plan designates 30th Street as a “2 lane connector,” which the Street Design Manual says has 11-foot car lanes.  So that leaves us with 18 feet to play with. At a minimum, state standards dictate a separated bike lane should be five feet wide with a two-foot buffer, with a seven-foot lane and three-foot buffer preferred.  So we need between 14 and 20 feet for two one-way separated lanes in each direction.  That would leave us with no room for parking on 30th Street.  Although possible, especially over Switzer Canyon, that may be a tough political sell.

The other option is a two-way bike lane on one side, with lanes running next to each other.  Those can be a total of eight feet wide with two or three feet of separation, which would leave room for a standard seven-foot wide parallel parking lane.  Although it may not be ideal, a two-way bike lane may be the only politically feasible option.  If we eliminated just a few, mostly unused parking spaces from the east side of 30th Street between Juniper and Redwood, we could build a nice two-way bike lane with some separation, like this:

Adding a bike lane by narrowing the road would also have the benefit of slowing down the cars a bit and making walking a bit more pleasant. We would have to design some shared spaces at a few bus stops, but it could work. There are no traffic signals here that would have to be redesigned, cutting down on costs. The east side of 30th Street has few driveways in that area, leading to few conflicts between cars and bikes. In the end, it would look something like this:

So those appear to be our options: either one-way separated lanes with no parking at all, or a two-way bike lane on the east side.  The next question: would the city go for this? Read on...

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