The Goss-Grove neighborhood is a quiet residential enclave in the center of Boulder, bounded by Canyon to the north, Arapahoe to the south, 17th St. to the west, and Folsom to the east. It’s quiet largely because it’s nearly cut off from the rest of the street network. The only through access to the area for cars is 22nd Street, which connects Canyon and Arapahoe north-south. At the same time though, the area is relatively permeable to bikes and pedestrians, with little pocket parks and community gardens making some of the north-south connections at 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Streets, which all connect Arapahoe and Canyon. Running east-west, Grove Street becomes Grove Circle, connecting 15th all the way to Folsom St. for pedestrians.
If you’re willing to walk through the parking lot by James Travel and Mondo Robot, you can get all the way from the Farmer’s Market to McGuckins on very quiet streets.
As a bicyclist, you can get through too, but it’s not designed to make it easy. With some relatively minor changes to the Grove corridor, we’d be well on the way toward creating a Neighborhood Greenway like the ones Portland, Oregon has been putting in. Streetfilms looked at them in this video:
A major study in Vancouver, BC has looked at the relative safety of biking on various types of infrastructure, by looking at several hundred actual accidents resulting in hospital visits by cyclists over an 18 month period. Vancouver has a lot of different types of bike infrastructure, some of it extremely safe, so it’s a good test bed. Unsurprisingly, busy roads with parked cars and no on-street bike facilities were the most dangerous. Cycletracks (physically separated dedicated on-street bikeways) were an astonishing 90% safer. Interestingly, multi-use paths weren’t all that much safer, despite being preferred by many cyclists.
In livable, human-scale cities, a lot of cargo can be moved more efficiently by bike. The EU is funding a pilot project called CycleLogistics to collect data on just how effectively human powered cargo can be scaled up. With modest electrical assistance, loads can scale up to as much as 250 or even 500 kg, and stay human scale. It’ll be very interesting to see the results.
Two bicyclists have been killed at the intersection of US-36 and Violet Avenue since 2009. The most recent was TJ Doherty, on July 24th, 2012. Both cyclists were headed southeast on US-36, and were hit by cars traveling northwest, making left turns onto Violet. In this area US-36 is just outside of Boulder’s city limits, in the county, but it’s the Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) that’s responsible for it. Looking at the aerial view below we can explore why this intersection might be particularly dangerous for cyclists.
Northwest bound vehicles on US-36 have a dedicated left turn lane, and no obligation to stop before making their turn. The angle that Violet Ave. makes with the highway is quite oblique, meaning that it can be taken at high speed, and because US-36 has a speed limit of 55 mph in this area, cars often will take it at high speed if they don’t see any oncoming traffic.
From a southeast bound bicycle’s point of view, there’s no obviously correct place to be on the road, if they’re planning to proceed through the intersection. The shoulder on the west side of the road narrows to a few inches, and it’s to the right of a right-turn-only lane. If you ride all the way to the right, you risk a vehicle turning in front of you onto Violet. Your intent to continue through the intersection is also unclear to oncoming traffic. Most cyclists instead take a position that’s well within the right turn lane, to prevent right-turning vehicles from passing them and immediately turning right in front of them. However, this lane position still leaves their intent ambiguous to oncoming traffic. Alternatively, you might choose to straddle the line separating the through travel lane and the right turn lane. This makes the bike relatively visible, and more clearly conveys the intent to continue through the intersection, at the expense of potentially sandwiching the cyclist between right turning vehicles and very fast moving through traffic. If the cyclist instead chooses to behave exactly like a motor vehicle, moving into the through lane of traffic, the very large difference in speed between the bike and the other vehicles in that lane creates a hazard. Thus, there’s no right place for a cyclist to be on this road if they’re planning to continue through the intersection.
When we combine the unavoidable ambiguity of the through cyclist’s intent with the very high left-turning speeds of oncoming traffic, we have a recipe for disaster. A recipe which has killed two people in three years.
Tips on How to do a Bike Move from Déménagement Myette, a commercial bicycle moving company in Montreal. They have a whole fleet of extra wide Bikes at Work cargo trailers, that carry standard household appliances with ease! More than 1000 bike moves done since 2008.
Yesterday the Boulder Greenways Advisory Committee killed the Fourmile Creek Path because of objections from the NIMBYs living near the right-of-way. Separated off-street infrastructure that’s available year round is vital to getting kids on bikes, and seeing them as a real mode of transportation. Political will is essential to build for the future even when the nearby and present interests are opposed. Without some backbone here, we’re never going to get a transportation system that isn’t wholly dependent on fossil fuels, or streets that are built for human beings.
In the post-war era (the 1950s and 1960s) the Netherlands started down the car-dependent re-development path. Much of the country needed to be re-built, and the nation became wealthy quickly, and then oil and gas were discovered off shore. Then they realized that designing for the automobile came at far too high a price in both blood and treasure and mass protests nationwide reversed the country’s transportation investment policies, returning to the human powered cities we’ve build for millennia. Change is possible.
A city-scale bike and pedestrian omnibus bill is coming before City Council. Among other things, it creates a well-defined cross walk speed limit for bikes (8 mph), requires bikes and peds to activate the blinking lights at mid-block crossings, and legalizes back-in angled parking, which the city wants to experiment with on University, near the intersection with 17th, to make the bike lane safer.