By now, most of you are aware that 8th Street reconstruction is complete. I’ve received several questions asking what is different? What isn’t? Are those bike lanes? Where are the sharrows?
This post attempts to answer those questions.
Overall, the reconstruct is a positive improvement for motor vehicles. The neighbors along this stretch will also appreciate a reduction of their homes shaking due to large vehicles driving on old asphalt and the improved water lines that were the original intent of the project.
However, there was a lot that fell on the floor in regards to other modes of transportation. For fun, I spent Sunday morning walking the route with a mental clipboard, chalk and a camera for a walking audit, as well as some D.I.Y. (Dreaming It Yourself). This is just one evaluation, please chime if you see something I didn’t. Headlines linked to image where available.
- Crosswalks: 2 late additions at Fern St. and Prospect St. as well as road marking that is slightly textured and appears that it won’t easily fade away. There is also a new crosswalk at Bates St., as well as Grant St.
- Rose St. Crosswalk: Nice, thick strips should help announce pedestrian presence.
- ADA Accessible Ramps: It’s the law, but it is still nice. They come complete with truncated domes to assist the visually impaired.
- Garfield Intersection: All users benefit from the improved condition at this section. There might not be a bike lane, but at least we can now ride it without losing our teeth from the bumps. An improved crosswalk is now here as well.
The Not Good:
- Left Hand Turn Lanes: These were not part of the previous cross-section. People were making left-hand turns onto Barlow St., but there is concern that these turn lanes 1) will increase cut-through traffic north through Oak Park neighborhood and 2) is part of a future Barlow St. extension, widening going south. The turn lanes also negatively impact bike riders as it pushes motor vehicles towards the curb, while for the entire preceding block they were pushed toward the center with a fog line.
- Pedestrian Signs: Signage is not the most affective means to communicate intent, however, when it’s all you can get, it’s all you can get. The issue is that in two places the placement of the pedestrian signs are behind trees.
- Pedestrian Activated Light: The Rose St. and 8th Street cross walk is marked with a thicker, slightly textured marking; that’s nice. However, requiring pedestrian traffic going North-South to push a button to get a green light reflects the prioritization of motor vehicles. Peds going East-West are not required to push a button; cars are never asked to push a button. An activated signal for pedestrians helps reduce the time sequence, but it should also be synced with the traffic light to turn green with the signal.
- Sharrows: These shared road markings are yet to be approved by the state guidelines, so although proposed as an alternative, they never really had a chance with state money being spent. I do look forward to the future use of sharrows though. They are designed to communicate placement for bike riders while at the same time clarifying to motorists that cyclists do indeed have a right to the entire lane. There will be a future post this week about sharrows and where they might be used in Traverse City.
- Share the Road signs and Bicycle Crossing signs: Signage is an afterthought that has limited actual impact. It may however serve to invite more riders to actually bike this stretch, which will ultimately improve conditions. At the same time, there are mix reviews out there on what “Share the Road” actually means. A cyclists has the right to the entire lane, so a more apt sign might just say “Bikes using the Road” or “Bikes Belong”. Or, in the future we might consider a sign more inline with the complete streets philosophy. A Coexist sign with a “Streets Are For Everyone” plaque developed in Chapel Hill.
For more images along 8th Street, visit the MyWHaT flickr page, including a rough sketch of a bike box.
Have you been on the newly paved 8th Street? What did you experience?
What’s the priority here?
It’s only for 10 days, yet it’s still reflective of community priorities that we turn a key piece of our most valable parkland into a parking lot during Cherry Festival.
This is particularly a sensitive place as it is the former location of the Smith-Barney building that the area citizens voted to purchase precisely to ‘open up’ the bayfront and allow the planning of a comprehensive park running the entire waterfront.
As the city is about to kick down some serious cash on improving the bayfront, let’s not continue to use it as one large parking lot. This portion of the bay is managed by the City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority.