Hmm, sounds to me more like completely segregated streets – one for cars, one for pedestrians, one for bicyclists, etc. I can see Liberty Avenue now, the average speeds will increase by 15 mph and become yet another urban highway with no sane safe way for the people to cross – grit your teeth, pretend you don’t mind and take your life into your own hands, even when you’ve got the light. And the bicyclists, yet again relegated to an obscure street out of the way – they won’t mind taking the looong way to get where they want to go, and why would they want to get to a store on Penn Avenue? Oh, I know, can’t have bikes on Penn Avenue because they “scare” the pedestrians, like high speed cars don’t! Complete streets should be where all the modes mix and, yes, that would mean slower speed automobiles. In other countries street designers are making efforts to slow down automobiles on their community streets (forcibly slowing them down, not just begging “please slow down”). Here in America our goal seems to be to separate out non-motorized traffic so there is no check on motorist’s behavior! Frankly I don’t see what the aversion is to slower automobiles. Why does high speed motor traffic always have to be accommodated? If motorist want to get from downtown to points east let them take the long way around via the soon to be completed super-highway Route 28. Why not make all of the streets in the strip complete with traffic at sane speeds! I dare you.
Thanks for your feedback. The full report will be made available online soon, and there will be plenty of notice about it provided to you, as well as ways to get direct updates about future public forums. There is nothing about this effort that excludes any mode from any street, apart from keeping cars and trucks off of the commuter bike path. Please consider a few things about how the outputs evolved, for instance:
1. Liberty Avenue – Current 9 foot lanes and multiple fatalities due to turning into oncoming traffic and pedestrian deaths, lead to a desire to eliminate the “second threat” condition by dropping one inbound lane. That change prioritizes safety over the number and rate of any vehicle moving along Liberty Avenue. Reducing the lanes to 3 does provide for a safer pedestrian crossing, combined with upgraded pavement markings and lighting for traffic calming. That also allows us to provide 12 foot lanes which are much safer for a shared lane scenario. This concept would also relieve congestion at the 16th Street Bridge/Penn Avenue intersection. Enforcement is also a constant ingredient to establishing a calmer traffic pattern short of installing cobblestones the entire stretch of Liberty. As we move into implementation (ie get funding) there will be additional opportunity for public feedback, as well as the need to coordinate important concerns voiced by the Port Authority.
2. Penn Avenue – We discussed removing a lane of parking in order to install a two-way cycle track along Penn Avenue. A great number of people attended our week-long Design Charrette and provided feedback as to how the row of parked cars acts as a buffer – containing all that craziness along the sidewalk that draws people to the Strip from the hinterlands. Those comments continue to be reiterated by business owners and other would-be pedestrians (ie motorists) alike. Everyone becomes a pedestrian at some point along Penn Avenue. Current concerns are that the pedestrian and market bazaar condition would spill out into the cycle track and that business access would be hindered. There was support for additional bicycle parking and curb bump-outs to increase pedestrian safety and prevent folks from parking on the corners where trucks are trying to turn – which often results in gridlock. I am sure there is an opportunity to continue to work with folks along Penn Avenue.
3. Smallman Street – We worked out the most viable route for a streetcar, considering current and future market forces as well as the pedestrian experience. And Smallman Street is where it is at. The detailed routing will be provided when the written materials are complete and published later in June. For now, consider that funding for a streetcar project would also help address the conditions that exist along Smallman for the majority of its length, as well as circulate between the Cultural District and the Strip. There is an opportunity to restore Smallman Street as an iconic feature of the Strip, safely, while respecting the need of that single route to serve many functions in terms of access and mobility. Tracks in the street do pose a threat to unwary cyclists. There will be an effort to educate folks about that when we build the system.
4. Railroad Street – Across the entire width of the public and private right-of-way there is an opportunity to construct a better street, repurpose the freight rail, and establish an exclusive commuter bike path. As I mentioned earlier, cyclists are free to move along any street (no limited access highways here). We look forward to constructing a 6 mile paved, lighted pedestrian and cycle path on the flattest and most connected (to neighborhoods and the riverfront) stretch of land in the entire City. In this town that is saying a lot. That type of facility could be a game changer in transportation as the potential users are already here. The 8-year olds, 80-year olds, and anyone else with limited abilities could also be better accommodated along that stretch of path. And yes, there is still the pursuit of a riverfront path as well.
I bike regularly through the Strip (1-2 times weekdays) and I shop there every Saturday. Although I also cycle for pleasure, I consider my bike as a serious form of transportation in the city. My comments are from the transportation perspective.
The proposal for the area (as summarized in the video) is very nice, but here are some thoughts:
1) Penn should not be a purely “pedestrian” street. Apart from the obvious need for delivery access for merchants and parking for street vendors, the street provides access for individuals, such as the handicapped, that would otherwise be difficult to provide. There are numerous private parking lots that need access as well. The single biggest problem on that street is that some drivers treat it as a through street and will travel at unsafe speeds. This could be addressed by enforcement. But aside from maybe parking there is no traffic enforcement in that area (at least during the times I’m there). Why? It seems to me that the correct solution would involve diverting traffic to Liberty, upstream from the shopping area. Or otherwise introduce significant traffic calming to discourage through traffic. (For example, there are no traffic signals within the Strip proper. Why not?) How about restoring 2-way traffic above 26th? Or making it 1-way upstream between 26th and 31st? (As a cyclist I would love the latter: it would make the Smallman–>Liberty transition much safer.)
2) Smallman is a prime outbound cycling route. It should always include proper bike lanes. It ends at 36th, which in turn provides a simple flow to Butler and to Penn (that would be immensely improved by traffic signs). On Smallman, traffic lights and more stop signs will make it safer. Smallman also has numerous businesses that handle deliveries by semis. Often these have to park in a way that blocks both lanes of traffic. I don’t see the point of adding light rail, unless you can cause these businesses to shut down or force them to spend money on modifying their bays. This was never meant to be a through street.
3) Railroad is prime for development. I would consider it a great stretch for a trolley (barring issues with right of way). It would open up the street for businesses (Smallman is doing just fine on its own right now). It would also have river access as well as short walking access to Smallman and Penn. If needed, the trolley could come up Smallman up to 21st then jog over to Railroad (allowing it to service the busiest part of the Strip). As I cyclist I find Railroad not all that useful. I appreciate the relative lack of traffic, but then there are big trucks during the day. The eastern end is a mess with no clear transition southwards to street that continue to the east. I know this can be fixed, but still. I speak as a ‘commuter’ not as a leisure cyclist. Unless it is impossible to extend the existing trail along the river, I see no point in making it go along Railroad.
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