Today’s post is by City of Phoenix Traffic Engineer Kerry Wilcoxon giving us an update on plans for the Bicycle Boulevard and an extension of the Central Avenue Road Diet. Note that the extension of the Central Avenue Road Diet is still under evaluation, so if you are in favor of it, please contact your council person and express your support!

Fillmore Bicycle Boulevard

The Bicycle Boulevard is intended to provide an east west connection between Washington and I-10 from the Grand Canal to 15th Avenue. When completed this would allow bicyclists to travel from Tempe to Glendale through downtown Phoenix.

There are essentially four parts to the plan. The first part is the Fillmore-Roosevelt segment which runs from the south bank of the Grand Canal near Indian Trail and Garfield west along Roosevelt to 20th Street down 20th Street to Villa and then west on Villa to Fillmore and west again to 3rd and 5th Avenues. This first phase of the project included adding about 1 3/4 mile of bike lane to Roosevelt and new bike and parking lanes on 20th Street between Roosevelt and Van Buren. The first phase also included Phoenix’s first ever bike dot route markings on local streets, bike specific way-finding signs along the entire route and the green paint shared use lane along Fillmore between 1st and 7th Streets. This phase cost us about $40,000 which came out of the bike program budget.  This phase is completed.

The second phase will be the connection between the Bicycle Boulevard and the Grand Canal path. This will be completed later this year when the city and SRP install a pathway over the small drainage ditch between Indian Trail and the canal path that will allow bicyclist to ride directly from the boulevard to the canal pathway. The city has asked to use SRP aesthetic funds for this phase of the project.

The third phase is a bridge crossing the Arizona Canal on the 15th Avenue alignment north of Dunlap. This phase would allow bicyclists to ride from the bike lanes on 15th Avenue to the multi-use trail along the north side of the Arizona Canal which would then allow them to travel along the canal to Glendale. This phase is expected to be completed later this fall or early in 2013 and is being paid for by Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality  (CMAQ) federal funds.

The final phase of the project is to investigate a signalized crossing of 7th Avenue at Fillmore via a HAWK signal.  This is a bit dicey because the crossing would be complex and expensive and would probably require purchase of land so this may not happen but if it does it would be a few years out.

Central Avenue Road Diet Extension – Bethany Home to Arizona Canal

We have been directed by council representatives from Districts 3, 4 and 6 to investigate a road diet on Central Avenue from Bethany Home to the Arizona Canal. This would entail removing a full motor-vehicle travel lane on Central between signals. At the signals, the bike lane would transition to a shared use lane. This would help provide neighborhood traffic on Central a safer place to turn left or right off of Central. It would also provide designated biking facilities from the light rail station on Central and Camelback to the Arizona Canal along Central.

We are conducting a series of traffic studies along Central now to determine the affect of the reduced motor-vehicle lanes. There is no real time frame on this other than council has requested we complete our evaluation this spring. I am reporting the results to the North Central Phoenix Home Owners Association at a meeting in May. After that we will make a decision on the project. The estimated cost of the obliteration of old lane lines and restriping of new is approximately $100,000. If we are given the go-ahead we would need to identify a funding source for this work.

Photo credit: From the inaugural ride on January 8, 2012 of the current Central Avenue Road Diet between Camelback Road and Bethany Home Road. Photo by Taz Loomans.

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4 Responses

  1. Feliciano Vera says:

    I regularly ride Central Avenue, incorporating different segments on different rides. The road diet is a great step in the right direction, as it makes cycling on the street much more comfortable and safe for new and experienced cyclists alike – with consequent, measurable, increases in safety for drivers and pedestrians as well.

    As City staff evaluates the return on investment in bicycling infrastructure, it may be advisable to begin incorporating health impact assessment data as a routine evaluation criterion, in addition to the typical public benefit metrics. In so doing, we would begin to position both the City and the region to be more competitive for increasingly scarce federal funding.

    While I have yet to conduct a review of existing literature or data, ample anecdotal evidence exists that Phoenix and the surrounding metropolitan region is competitive as a national winter training destination for amateur and professional cyclists; if we have some basic physical infrastructure to support their training regimens, then we have made a good start.

    The challenge we face, though, is that those cyclists constitutes an extremely narrow slice of the overall population of existing, casual cyclists, and potential cyclists. Integrating measures of health impacts would be a strong way of differentiating the public benefits created by investment in bicycle infrastructure (and pedestrian infrastructure for that matter) relative to investment in basic street infrastructure. Thomas Gotschi has a great analysis of the health care impacts of bicycle infrastructure investments in Portland that could provide a potential template (http://bit.ly/IuZRyZ).

    In any event, bravo!

  2. Great news! I will likely be an ASU grad student in the fall and will be combining bike, bus, rail and feet to get everywhere. My Planner Guy husband and I hope for a car free lifestyle eventually and this might make it just a bit easier.

  3. Kerry, I appreciate your efforts to improve Phoenix’s bicycling infrastructure and the collector street traffic calming projects you have brought to residential neighborhoods around the city. Nevertheless, I’m a bit unclear about the usefulness of the Bicycle Boulevard, especially the eastern portion of it.

    The bike lanes and dots along Fillmore, Roosevelt, Villa, etc. will provide a good route between Downtown and Maricopa Medical Center, but I don’t see them as a useful link to Tempe. The problem lies with the Grand Canal. Even with a direct connection between that canal and Indian Trail, bicyclists would face difficult crossings at Van Buren / 40th Street, where they’d have to wait through two lights, and again at Washington Street, where the nearest signal is on the other side of the canal relative to the paved path. Once the canal passes 143, the pavement goes away and the route winds through an industrial area before curving north near Washington and Center Parkway.

    If I want to travel between the downtowns of Phoenix and Tempe, I’d rather use the existing bike lanes on Washington Street or hang my bike in the vertical racks on light rail. I’m therefore unclear as to how this new boulevard provides a better route to Tempe.

    I’m more pleased with the western portion of the boulevard, especially the bridge that will allow bike traffic on 15th Avenue to cross to the north side of the Arizona Canal. This will be helpful in the same way as the existing bridge at 47th Avenue and the Grand Canal where Phoenix borders Glendale.

    As for the prospect of bikes lanes on Central between Bethany and the Arizona Canal, is the plan to move from two car lanes in each direction to one in each direction with a shared left turn lane in the middle? That might help offset any traffic congestion caused by the lost lanes.

  4. Kerry Wilcoxon says:

    Thanks for the feedback on the bike boulevard. Your comments about the Grand Canal are spot on and this is the next big bike project our section will be tackling. Streets has begun working with SRP, the City of Phoenix Planning and Development Services, Parks and the Office of Arts and Culture. The over arching goal of the project is to develop the Grand Canal between 7th Avenue and Tempe into a multi-use path that can be used as a bikeway between Tempe and downtown Phoenix.
    The most notable feature of the canalscape will be the treatments between the road crossings including public art, landscaping and benches. Of less note but I believe equal importance will be making the different portions of the canalscape contiguous by providing convenient and safe crossings at the arterial streets along the way. This will be the Street Department’s main area of focus.
    A few weeks ago staff from Streets and the Office of Arts and Culture did a bicycle tour of the canal from Tempe to 5th Avenue to assess the crossing opportunities along the way. We believe that as the canalscape concept moves forward, Streets can begin making the crossings. This will increase the usefulness of the canal bank that exists today and we hope increase the number of bicyclists and pedestrians who will begin using and who begin demanding the city realize the canal’s potential.
    From the bike tour it looks like by realigning a few crosswalks at exisiting signals, adding 3-4 HAWK pedestrain signals and 5-6 crosswalks and median islands we can make the pathway much more usable as a bike commuter route and neighborhood pedestrian park.
    The Streets portion of the project will not cost much relative to the overall project but even the overall project will cost less than some of our major road projects. I think it just takes leadership.

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