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Protected Lanes Not Part of New Plan for Bike Lanes Downtown

Brent Warren Brent Warren Protected Lanes Not Part of New Plan for Bike Lanes Downtown
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The city revealed plans last month for new bike lanes on four major downtown arteries; Long, Spring, Third and Fourth streets. These plans call for a combination of painted bike lanes, signs and sharrows along the length of each of the streets Downtown. The plans do not call for physically separated lanes – or cycle tracks – something the city had indicated in January that it was studying for Third and Fourth streets.

Rick Tilton of the city’s Department of Public Service said that cycle tracks were considered, but that a preliminary engineering study found that the streets aren’t wide enough to accommodate a physical buffer for the bike lanes, “without reducing the availability of current on-street parking during morning and evening rush hours.”

“The priority is the safety of everyone, particularly bicyclists,” he added, “so we need sufficient space for bicyclists to ride safely.”

All of the bike lanes will be added when the streets are resurfaced. For Long and Spring streets, work could be finished by the end of the year while the Third and Fourth Street repaving and marking is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2015.

Tilton said that Long and Spring streets were studied for possible conversion to two-way traffic, but that both will remain one-way for the foreseeable future.

“The study found two-way traffic would result in increased traffic congestion during morning and evening rush hours, and would limit the ability to provide bike lanes and full-time parking on both streets,” said Tilton.

Harvey Miller, Professor of Geography and Reusche Chair in Geographic Information Science at The Ohio State University, calls the decision to keep the Downtown streets one-way “a bit shortsighted”.

“One way streets are bad in general unless they’re small alleys, because they discourage walkability with higher speeds, higher noise and higher pollution,” he explained. “There’s evidence to show that taking away capacity doesn’t lead to congestion because it leads people to use other means of transit. Cities have been around for 5,000 years, but cars have only been around for 100, so people are going to have to get past the view that cars have more of a right to city streets than pedestrians or bikes or other modes of transit.”

The downgrade of the bike lane project on Third and Fourth streets comes on the heels of a recent proposal in Cleveland to add up to 50 miles of protected lanes to their street grid.

For more information on the bike lanes projects, visit www.columbus.gov.

For more updates and discussion on bike lanes in Columbus, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

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