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Spring and Long Downtown Could See Further Bike Improvements

Brent Warren Brent Warren Spring and Long Downtown Could See Further Bike ImprovementsPhoto by Walker Evans.
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Although nothing is scheduled and the funding has yet to be secured, the city is planning significant streetscape-improvement projects for Spring and Long streets Downtown. That could mean a road diet – similar to the recent changes to Nationwide Boulevard – as well as improvements to the bike lanes that were recently painted on both streets.

Those new bike lanes – as well as two planned for Third and Fourth streets – have inspired their fair share of complaints; business-owners have expressed concern about losing metered parking spots, and some cyclists have wondered why the lanes can’t be physically-separated from traffic. In the case of Long Street, the city’s original plans were changed to accommodate metered parking in front of Spoonful Records and B1 Bicycles.

“I think everybody thinks what we did on Spring and Long is a permanent thing, but it’s not,” said Columbus Public Service Director Tracie Davies. “Ideally, funding pending, we’d like to do a streetscape project on Spring and Long, and then we would put in permanent biking facilities.”

Davies explained the thinking behind painting on the bike lanes and then revisiting the project after some time has passed and cyclists have had a chance to weigh in on their impact.

“What we thought was, let’s go ahead and put in some bike lanes, and watch,” she said. “We’ll see how it goes, tweak some things, reach out to the bike community, and get an idea of what we should do for the ideal plan.”

That ideal plan could include physically separated bike lanes, although there are issues with protected lanes that the city has yet to resolve.

“In a perfect world, we would like to have protected bike lanes, but right now, we don’t have equipment to maintain protected bike lanes; we don’t have the smaller street sweepers, or snow removal equipment… it’s pretty labor intensive in how you clean those,” she said. “The last thing we want to do is build something and then not maintain it.”

Davies said that the Long and Spring streetscape projects would rely on funding from the capital budget and are likely at least two years out, but that during that time the city will be researching options for bike-lane maintenance and continuing to add painted lanes and sharrows throughout the city.

“Mayor Coleman’s obviously a huge biking advocate, and would like to see us do whatever we possibly can,” she said “But for now, we’re trying to focus on what can we do for more value for our dollar; where we can add bike lanes, sharrows, bike boulevards, and shared use paths… we’re really focusing this year on looking at how we can increase our biking facilities.”

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