City Council is set to discuss the proposed W. Main St. Streetscape plan at the next meeting on August 17th. There has been vocal opposition to the plan in whole and part both inside and outside of Council. The very long public process took on many facets including such things as zoning, undergrounding of utilities, protection of vulnerable users, etc. The plan also includes the use of buffered bike lane. It has come to the attention of some that the current plan while great in many ways, leaves room for improvement.
With the entire W. Main plan in question, we as people who ride bicycles need action soon regardless of the redevelopment of W. Main. Here are some facts:
- W. Main is the backbone of the bicycle network in Charlottesville. It is by far the shortest and flattest route between UVa and downtown. All collected data shows W. Main is the most heavily used corridor despite its poor treatment of people riding bicycles.
- W. Main’s current configuration is dangerous for people on bicycles. The bicycle lane directly adjacent to the parking lane which puts bicyclists directly in the dooring zone which can be fatal.
- Bicycle facilities provide the best return on investment for local governments. Good bicycle infrastructure boosts the economy, increases business and, most importantly, increases the number of people riding bicycles! The more people riding bicycles, the safer it is for all bicyclists.
So, what is needed is for people to show up to speak at the Council meeting on Monday, August 17th. In support of proper bicycle facilities for W. Main and beyond in the city.
Beyond the above facts, here are some great talking points for Council:
- The Rhodeside Harwell plan has many great features including good the removal of utilities from streetscape, more trees, wider sidewalks, separated bicycle facilities and chicanes to calm motor vehicle traffic speed. However, a little tweaking is necessary to make people riding bicycles as safe as possible.
- In an attempt to shield the bicycle travel lane from the motor lane, it is tucked behind the motor vehicle parking lane. This creates a less-than-optimal condition for several reasons.
- People on bicycles are now forced to come out from behind cars at intersections creating a conflict with turning motor vehicles.
- The bus passengers will have to cross the bike lane.
- Having the bicycle lane disappear and then reappear next to the travel lane will be a distraction for people in motor vehicles
- People accessing vehicles from the sidewalks will have to cross the bicycle lane.
- The lack of grade separation between the bicycle lane and sidewalk creates potential conflicts with pedestrians.
- There is no space for motor vehicles to pull over to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
- Snow plowing the bike lane will be an issue.
- Moving the bicycle lane next to the motor vehicle travel lane while providing a buffer to the dooring zone and travel lane addresses all the above issues.
- Having the bicycle lane consistent through the corridor provides motorists with predictable cues for dealing with people on bicycles.
- Conflicts between pedestrians and people riding bicycles is eliminated.
- The bicycle lanes will be easier to maintain in both snow and debris removal is adjacent to the car travel lane.
In order to speak at the Council meeting, you must sign up. It is suggested you get there around 6:30 in order to do that. Thanks!