Last week’s post about winter cycling was so popular, it needs following up with some inspiration. What better way than a promo for Copenhagen, where they enjoy a 50% mode share and, according to the film’s creator at Copenhaenize.com, 80% continue to ride through the winter.
Without fear; without fancy gear. However, with plenty of great infrastructure.
Snow is coming, how do feel about winter cycling? The MyWHaT poll will be open for one more day. (What answer best describes your approach to bicycle commuting during the winter months?)
Division Street’s Immediate Future
The following is a consolidated list of suggested minimum design elements to help calm traffic for safety, context, accessibility and livability issues along the Division St. corridor. Fixing the intersections with modern roundabouts, or another as of yet surfaced option, is only in the preliminary stages. This list was completed with the imperative that the community can’t wait 10 (+/-) more years to begin addressing the corridor. We can start today with added improvements.
However, nothing on this list is impossible.
The list was shared with the City engineering department and northern Michigan MDOT. It was received with positive feedback and it’s my understanding that some of the items are under consideration for implementation both short-term and in the long-term; I don’t have clarity on what those plans entail.
The scope of MDOT’s 2011 preventive maintenance project is expected for public viewing in January. Obviously, I’d like to see as many of the following included with the full understanding that there are limited funds. Personally, I’d like to see part of the $1.7 Grand Vision/TALUS money be applied to Division St. in 2011, but the TALUS group has yet to work out their procedure to allocate the money.
If you support any or all of this list, please email City Manager Ben Bifoss–email@example.com and Mayor Chris Bzdok–firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know of your support for doing something, anything, sooner than later to ameliorate Division St., while at the same time pursuing a larger fix, such as the proposed roundabout design.
* Click the link for a PDF of the following list.
Brainstorming Improvements for 2011 & Beyond For Division St.
1. MDOT Rights-of-Way:
- Lane widths:
- Narrow as possible. Consider inconsistent lane widths to give sense of lateral shifts.
- Use of fog line to move cars away from curb.
- Crosswalks: Improved crosswalk markings at 14th, 11th and/or 10th, 7th, Front St., Randolph and Grandview. Thermo-plastic zebra striping is recommended.
- Crosswalks location: Crosswalks at14th and Front St. need to be set back from moving traffic.
- Front St. has stop bars set back considerably from the intersection, yet the crosswalks are all directly next to the moving traffic.
- Hawk Crossing at 11th or 10th or other location?
- Ped Signals: Dual automatic & user activated countdown pedestrian signals at all signalized intersections.
- Caution warning: Flashing yellow beacon at 11th.
- Improved intersection lighting at key intersections (11th, 7th).
- Pedestrian lighting along entire corridor.
- Entry: Use northbound approach to Division (south of 14th) as a transition zone to allow drivers a sense of the change in use before they get there.
2. City’s Rights-of-Way:
- Sidewalk completion: East side gaps (North and South).
- Lighting: Pedestrian-Scale Lighting length of corridor.
- Street trees and landscaping: West side from 14th to 7th, but also between Randolph and Bay St. on the East side. As close to road as possible. Traverse City “the beautiful city”. Deciduous trees that will develop canopy is required, as opposed to conifers.
- Street furniture: Add benches along the sidewalk at 10th (It’s a park!)
- Parking: Add a parking area on Division, west side across from 9th St. with a curb bump out.
- Banners: Entry banners across road (“Welcome to Traverse City: Walkable neighborhoods & Parks. Please slow down” or some other emotional signage) at Griffin and possibly near Randolph.
- Banners 2: Banners on light poles, as throughout DDA area and similar to what Interlochen does as you approach the school.
- Restrictions: “No Left turns” at 11th st., Bay St. and, possibly, Randolph St. (could be seasonal or just during rush hours)
- Enforcement: Increased patrolling for speeds.
- Way-finding: Improved way-finding to points of interest along corridor.
- Enhanced Crosswalks: Crosswalks on the main east-west roads is needed. Example, Randolph, Bay, 11th.
- Signals: Change metered left turns off of Front. (These aren’t compatible with Complete Streets as bikes cannot set the triggers.)
- Lighting: Lighting along 11th St. leading into commons, including lights on the pyramid and/or a ‘monument’ of a sign identifying the park.
- New Pathways: The Common Lawn, next to Division, north of 11th. A landscaped space with new trees and two lighted mixed-use pathways. One replacing the current sidewalk and another leading away from the current sidewalk (near 10th and/or 8 1/2) and meandering through what’s now a lawn to 11th St.
- Entry: Design US-31 south of 14th Street to slow traffic before it enters the corridor.
- Street art/furniture: For example, statues on each side of road feigning a pedestrian preparing to cross the road…[mom pushing a baby carriage / person in a wheelchair / person with cane]
- Islands: Short boulevard entry on west side of 11th
- School Zone: “Safe passage” recommendations for school zone??
- Neighborhood Calming: A Central Neighborhood traffic calming plan needs to be adopted and implemented ASAP. A focus on the cross-sections and intersections closest to Division needs is a priority.
- Beautification project of property between Randolph and Bay St. (Behind Elks Club).
- Beautification project where Kids Creek crosses under the road. Example, construction of bulb outs over the creek.
- Beautification project of Veteran’s Memorial Park.
4. Educational Endeavors:
- Driving Habit awareness campaign: Bumper stickers, shirts etc with sharp messages to get drivers thinking about people and neighborhoods when driving, such as “Neighbors Drive Slower: or something like that, but better. Also, start with this campaign to build toward the ‘Vote for Roundabouts’ campaign
- Entrance: Monumental “Welcome to Traverse City” sign at Division and 14th
- Speeding: Permanent vehicle activated speed signs, which react with a message if they detect a speeding vehicle
- Calming Education: Signs for influencing driver behavior: rather than “Deaf Child in Area”, say things like “276 Small Children in Area” or “Only You Can Calm Traffic”. Digital sign could change and a public submittable program could be used to generate ideas.
- Applied to Everywhere: Education of police officers on pedestrian and bicycling issues.
It is recommended that partners be sought for some of the larger projects. For example, the development of the commons lawn (3.3 below) could include a partnership between Traverse City Parks and Recreation, TART, TCLP, The Village at the Grand Traverse Commons and Munson Medical Center.
As noted, this is not comprehensive, but it is extensive. If you like what you see on this list, please send the list and an explanation of your support to the city manager and the mayor. You’re encouraged to generate your own ideas (please share them with us here).
Email your support to: City Manager Ben Bifoss–email@example.com and Mayor Chris Bzdok–firstname.lastname@example.org
My Email this morning:
I wanted to check in on the process for the Division St. re-design. The modeling we witnessed 3 weeks ago showed that any number of roundabout schemes would move traffic without significant change from what we have now. It’s my understanding that many of the schemes actually improve motorized traffic flow, as was predicted. I’m wondering what is the city’s next steps and how citizens can support that process. How will the other concerns of the corridor that are not addressed in the modeling be considered? Who is the lead for this project?
Also, attached is a list of recommendations that was created out of a stakeholders group interested in seeing the Division St. re-design aggressively pursued. This list was generated out of the imperative that any major improvements, like roundabouts, are several years away. In the meantime there are improvements we can make, many of which could be improved in collaboration with the 2011 preventive maintenance of Division St. by MDOT. The list has been shared with city engineering and MDOT, and it’s my understand that some of the recommendations are being considered. I support any and all of the items be done as soon as possible. The sooner we know the city’s plan the better we, the citizens, can support the effort.
I’ve also attached a diagram from the Project for Public Spaces that I believe is relevant to keep in mind and use as we go ahead.
Thank you for your time and your service.
Traverse City, MI
P.S. Being supportive of the modern roundabout as a traffic tool, and knowing that the City was advised to consider a less controversial location than a main corridor, I’ve created a map of logical first locations. My initial favorites on this list include Front/Madison, Front/Hall and Peninsula Drive/M-37. You can view the map at http://bit.ly/etbXWC
NOTE: Photos Taken during the Division Street Observational Walk initiated by MyWHaT.
If you’re new to My Wheels are Turning and would like to make a comment, please take a moment to visit our Comments Policy. Nothing serious, just some ground-rules.
Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city,’ for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.”
~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Once you become “a walker”, meaning someone who embraces the fact that we are all pedestrians first and that walking is your primary mode of travel, you can’t help but to see the absurdity of our built environment.
A built environment with architecture, engineering and design that blocks natural paths is sometimes as simple as a locked gate through a public right-of-way. Easily scaled, but why bother; the locals don’t want you there anyway–neighbors alienated.
Do you go over it? Or, find another route around?
Since its Black Friday and all, I couldn’t resist.
Quick quiz, what’s more resilient for our community?
- $73 of every $100 spent remaining in the community.
- $43 of every $100 spent remaining in the community.
There Is More To The Local Movement Than Just Food has a broader breakdown and more graphics.
A Truncated Weekly Chatter: Entitled Motorists, Troubled Engineers, Bike Safety & Revolution…Plus, My New T-Shirt
Before you read on, please answer the MyWHaT winter bike commuting survey.
What answer best describes your approach to bicycle commuting during the winter months?
- Confessions: A Recovering Traffic Engineer –”don’t hate the PLAYER, hate the GAME!”
- Blow-back against evil bike lanes, MyWHaT fan calls it right: “Entitled driver syndrome is a wondrous thing to behold.” NYC DOT explains the different bike lanes being used in the Big Apple (video). Pure evil.
ElsewhereEverywhere, the tea party elects are looking to thwart smart growth and thus transportation choices across the country. The rise of the cynical anti-planners may be political posturing run-amok, nonetheless it’s real. Still, it doesn’t make sense that those against big government are choosing to limit our choices. Luckily there is an alternative movement, and they are arguing t-choice for “fiscal restraint and national security.“
- Is it time for the Bicycle Revolution? (Illustration by Mona Caron) —>
- Study shows bicycling is safe, but we have a lot to discuss to make it better and comparatively safer…but we first must deal with the reality: “cars are such a powerful industry and such a normalized part of our daily lives that even acknowledging the hazards a vehicle presents to anyone other than its occupants is essentially taboo.“
- Looking for a better bus shelter…Toronto’s attempt.
- Should We Hope Congestion Gets Worse?: Do we prefer longer commutes? (@freakonomics)
- UK survey shows that big rigs comprise 4% of traffic but cause 43% of cyclist traffic deaths: (@BicycleFixation)
- There are two kinds of cities: Those making more room for cars & those making more room for pedestrians and transit. #transit #cities (@ccoletta)
Short and sweet, My Black Friday shopping contribution. Available via the folks at Urban Velo’s product department for $12.00. Send one to a few of your more auto-centric relatives. The message is priceless.
Have a turkey.
- New York City’s Disappearing Bike Lanes (environment.change.org)
Editor’s Note: A version of this post was originally posted last December in an inaugural post. It’s looks like snow will be upon us within the week and so I thought I’d resurrect it.
This year, I’m including a new poll:
What type of winter Bicycle Commuter Are You?
Originally posted 12/16/2009
What do I need for Winter Biking?
It’s an annual question.
The truth is, I’ve never really thought it through; I’m no expert. Usually, roads are scraped down to the asphalt and, besides the cold, there isn’t too much of a difference from any other time of the year. There are two basics to winter bicycle commuting: 1) layer (it’s easy to over-heat) and 2) don’t be dumb (winter is not the best time to challenge the worst designed streets in the city).
The rest will take care of itself, but here are some other specifics:
For the ride:
- Fender(s): Key for me. I hate that wet stripe up the backside.
- Tires: I’ve gone my entire life without studded tires–most riders do. This year I’m going to give them a try. December has been slippery. There are lots of choices…MyWHaT underwriter McClain’s on 8th will help. (They helped last year…but not always required)
- Lights: Less to see by and more To BE SEEN in these shortened days. My new favorites are the Reelights–always there, charged by the ride. (You’ll need more though).
For the Body:
- Good food: Internal fuel. Junk gets you nowhere fast.
- Base layer: Anything but cotton. Wool/Synthetic.
- Wind/Water Proof Shell: Anything with vent zippers under the pits is very nice.
- Head, Neck & Face: Key! Warm thin hat (under helmet), scarf (not too long) or balaclava. My arms and legs are usually fine, but if the head isn’t covered I freeze.
- Gloves: Wind and water proof preferred.
Or rather, not riding. Some days are just hell. Depending on conditions, I might just walk or take the bus, but sometimes I’ll take BATA bus one way and throw my bike on its racks. Of course, if it’s that wintry outside, I’d probably just stay home.
But, on the days you do ride, keep it smooth and relaxed. Falls typically happen when trying to stop or turn too quickly.
Bad balance + icy spot = rider falls down.
But its important not to be afraid to fall. It typically won’t hurt all that much and often results in laughter in the street. I don’t adjust my brakes in the winter and just let them go loose to prevent falls due to skidding. I’m going slow enough along neighborhood streets and don’t need to accidentally lock them up and skid out. That’s me, you may be different.
Oh, and about cars. Take up the lane. The edges are typically uncleared slushy messes. It’s a public road, meant for automobiles, bikers and walkers if need be. Use it.
If you have other questions, let us know. There are a many winter riders in Traverse City, and elsewhere, and each has their own tips.
What are some other tips of the trade for winter bike commuting?
Are we ready for a bike to work day/week in Northern Michigan? (We weren’t last year.)
Editor’s Note: Sorry for the re-post of this content. Some readers were having formatting issues with the original, so splitting and creating a new post was a quick solution.
Inspired by Henry’s enthusiasm earlier this morning and knowing that the City was advised to consider installing the first roundabout on a less contested intersection than those along Division St., I’ve begun a map of places we may consider Traverse City’s First Roundabout–see below for map.
Please note: This is a map of some suggestions. None of these have been researched by engineers, or to my knowledge considered by anyone who works for the city of Traverse City. These are just that, suggestions based on that idea that roundabouts are considered where: long rush hour queues exists, high number of crashes and/or a high number of left turns, and where the city knows or predicts high number of pedestrians.
Have any additions?
Roundabout Suggestions for Traverse City
Related Video: Mayor of Carmel, IN, James Brainard describes the city’s experience with more than 50 roundabouts
UPDATE 12:05pm: Due to some formatting glitches, some of the original content of this post will be posted in a follow-up and a graphic has been moved to the bottom. Henry’s post has otherwise been left unchanged.
Traverse City has pondered & pondered, wondered & wondered — said yes, said no, gone on & on. About what? About roundabouts.
What’s a roundabout? A traffic circle, a rotary. You know those things that are all over Europe — and we Americans hate them. When do we get on this spinning carousel? How & where do we get off? We have a tendency to go round & round, as if on a merry-go-round. We Americans hate roundabouts, rotaries, traffic circles. At this point the City of Traverse City is not about to build any roundabouts.
And yet, the city of Carmel, Indiana built sixty of these things since 2001. Sixty roundabouts in 9 years. Why did Carmel, Indiana, which was one of the first cities in America to build traffic lights — and they are now in the process of tearing down many traffic lights in Carmel, Indiana — why did they build so many roundabouts?(PDF)
How About This?
“In revamped intersections there has been an eighty per cent drop in crashes involving injuries.“
Did you hear that? An 80% drop — and those last four words are very significant — in crashes involving injuries. Not fender benders, but those kind of crashes where somebody gets hurt. What was the percentage drop in such crashes? Eighty per cent. Wow! A 30% or 50% drop would be significant. But this is much more significant: this is an eighty per cent drop in crashes involving injuries. Again, Wow!
And here is the second statistic — and all this is from a short article in Newsweek magazine, October 11, 2010, written by Tom Vanderbuilt: “Roundabouts can reduce fatal accidents by as much as 90%.” We thought an 80% drop was significant. What about a 90% drop? “Reduce fatal accidents by as much as 90%.”
Move Forward Traverse City
I should stop repeating myself, yelling figures at you — and Traverse City should get on with it now. If not sixty, we should build at least forty roundabouts in the next ten years. My reasons are simple, I want to live in, and I want friends & family to visit, a city that has reduced car-related injuries by 80 per cent and car-related deaths by 90 per cent.
- You: European Import Has Cars Spinning. Heads, Too. (nytimes.com)
- Roundabouts Reduce Crashes in Indiana (newsweek.com)
- Picture of Muskegon’s Roundabout (Flickr)
Interactive people watching; why just watch when you can experiment. Interesting study in traffic control and to watch how most people 1) followed the directed path and 2) managed to socially negotiate the right of way without issue, all without questioning. Who has time to question?
Created by Rune Madsen, Scott Wayne Indiana, Nien Lam and Nikolas Psaroudakis.
NOTE: My rants and cranks have lost a bit of an edge lately, and this post is no different. In fact, it’s almost apologetic. If you miss the more fiery rants, don’t worry, it’s cyclical and I’m sure something will amp me up eventually.
As noted before, by myself as well as others, I can be wrong and often, I am. It’s one reason I encourage comments, emails and other means of discussion. This BLOG, despite being driven by an individual is a community effort. There are people who take part publicly, and there are countless others who lay-back, but are still engaged. I hear from them time to time (often running into them serendipitously walking across town).
There are other people whom I wish would comment more. Namely, the decision makers whom I sometimes indirectly, occasionally directly, criticize. Mayor Chris Bzdok has commented on MyWHaT, but to my knowledge no other elected official, government employee or the like. This is unfortunate because clear, open and collaborative communication is severely lacking in northern Michigan. Even at public meetings there is a lack of productive discussion; its people talking AT one another, not with one another. I’m not sure how to get beyond that, but it certainly is a cause for concern and a reason we often end up with a ‘reactive’ citizenry instead of a ‘supportive’ one.
For myself, and what I publish on MyWHaT, I’m learning and I’m not an ideologue; my perspective can be altered. I base my commentary on what I know when and after an honest, committed effort to learn. Still, I suspect that if I perused the history of posts on MyWHaT, I’d find a few posts that I could find places for correction. I’m wide-open to criticism and challenges, and see MyWHaT as part of the solution to better communication. With better communication we can avoid countless controversies that leave distinct winners and losers.
A few weeks ago I posted “Am I An Ingrate For Wanting A Real Bike Lane?“questioned the new striping of E. 8th St as being appreciated, but perhaps not meeting the standards that the community has repeatedly requested. I ran a small correction, stating that my first critique went too far–that 4.5 feet of street surface indeed is a legitimate bike lane. It’s not even the minimum, however, nor is it the maximum.
Apparently, the issue didn’t end there and last week my error was relayed to me in passing by the engineering department. The next day, the city planner forwarded the following email from the city engineer to share with the public about the re-striping :
Via Timothy J. Lodge, P.E. City Engineer:
The notes I have about striping 8th Street are that the outside lanes (bike) in the restriped section are 6′ wide from the face of curb to the center of the stripe. I was able to confirm in the field that the striping is 6′.
This is the preferred width (5′ is the minimum width) in accordance with the 1999 AASHTO Bicycle Facilities Guide, the DRAFT 2010 AASHTO Bicycle Facilities Guide and the ITE Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares (2010) publication. Thus by current and proposed Guidelines the outside bike lane striping on 8th Street is the preferred width and not the minimum width. Each of the publications allow use of the gutter pan to be included in the bike lane width.
The intent was to have the outside lane no more than 6′ wide to deter parking along the route and to avoid the outside lane from being used as a second travel lane by vehicles. The remaining street width was divided up to try and keep the travel lanes narrow to see if speeds are affected by the narrow lane width.
Please forward on as needed. Thanks
I stand corrected on the specifics and the manuals. Our city engineer made a professional choice after weighing all the options. Another engineer may have accommodated people on bicycles with slightly less space and another may have allotted more space. Some engineers and designers don’t count the gutter pan, but it is within the guidelines and manuals to do so. Another engineer may have provided for a full 5′ of ride-able bike lane by creating 11′ turning lane where we now have a 12′ turning lane.
Regardless, this part of E. 8th Street now has bike lanes between the intersections (not through the intersections, mind you, but that’s for another day) and now just needs some signage and little bike rider logos painted on the asphalt to help encourage its use.
We are not yet a city that embraces bicyclists. The needs of providing for options that not only provide for needs, but also encourages active transportation is not yet a system wide perspective. I still get the feeling that self-propelled traffic is not a serious concern, but simply something to fit in where there is room. Yes, at times my perspective is going to be indignant when I first come upon the result of this institutionalized perspective. I get amped-up when I see that it’s been communicated that if we choose to walk or ride a bicycle we are less important.
I’m sorry. I’m working on it.
Clear communication will go a long way in helping me contain those urges.