Phoenix residents discuss bike lanes at transportation department meeting

Residents listen to the City of Phoenix’s proposed bike lane plans at the Burton Barr Central Library.

Fifteen-year Roosevelt Street resident Wayne Turner said he moved to downtown Phoenix because he wanted to bike and walk to places in the area.

But Roosevelt Street’s current infrastructure hasn’t made it easy or safe for him.

“The only place I will not ride my bike is Roosevelt from First Avenue to Seventh Avenue,” Turner said after a city public meeting discussing westbound bike lane connectivity plans on Roosevelt Street. “It’s just incredibly dangerous.”

Many Phoenix residents shared his concerns at a public meeting on Monday at the Burton Barr Central Library where the Phoenix transportation department proposed seven bike lane connectivity plans.

The options covered four streets including Fillmore, McKinley and Portland. Roosevelt had three bike lane options.

The meeting was sparked after residents heard a bicycle-lane connectivity plan going westbound on Roosevelt was canceled by the city last month. Currently, a bike lane is available to riders riding east on Roosevelt Street from Seventh Street to the Central/First Avenue split, then the bike lane disappears for half of a mile.

Turner said the public meeting was made last minute and only gave residents three days after the meeting to provide the city with comments about each bike lane plan.

“I think they [the city] didn’t have any intention to letting anyone know that they were going to do anything differently,” Turner said. “We thought it was all figured out already, and then just a month ago someone found out, ‘Hey they changed it,’” Turner said.

Carl Langford, the Phoenix traffic engineering supervisor, oversees the “striping and signage” on roads and he determines how to utilize space on the pavement.

The room erupted with applause and cheers when Roosevelt Option A displayed on the screen.

The plan proposes removing the center turn lanes from First Street to Third Avenue to make a complete bike lane while providing two travel lanes and bike lanes; however, Langford said at the traffic signal past Third and Fifth avenue, the road will be marked with sharrows indicating it will be a vehicle and bicycle shared street.

In order for vehicles to turn left, he said there needs to be a turn signal, otherwise vehicles have to wait to “make the gap” which creates a traffic build up and causes less vehicles to make it through a signal light.

Option A is Turner’s choice because he said it has the most amount of bike lanes and the least amount of sharrows.

“There’s tons of studies that show those [sharrows] are not particularly safe or good for bikes,” Turner said.

He said sharrows will not make a difference to bicycle safety because sharrows only serve the purpose as “some paint on the road.”

Some cyclists may even ride on the sidewalks because it is not safe for them to ride on the road, making it a danger to pedestrians, Turner said.

Unlike Roosevelt Option A, Option B keeps the two-way left turn way.

There will be a bike lane from Seventh to Sixth Avenue and from First Street through Central, but the rest of the road will be shared, Langford said.

The two-way turn lanes allows people to not have to wait at the light while someone is turning and keeps traffic flowing faster, he said.

Roosevelt Option C is a “slight variation” from Option B because it has a longer dedicated bike lane from about Third Avenue to First Street.

The plan for McKinley Street included bike lanes from Seventh Avenue to Central Avenue, but from Central Avenue to First Avenue, the road will be shared due to the narrow road, Langford said.

Approximately 110 parking spaces and 15 metered parking locations along McKinley will be removed to make room for bike lanes, Langford said.

The Fillmore option does not provide full bike lane options, but it was proposed for dedicated bike lanes to be implemented from Seventh Avenue to Central, but from Central to Fillmore the road will be shared.

The bike lane will connect to existing bike lanes on Third and Fifth Avenue.

Some street parking will have to be removed including 20 un-metered parking spots, 17 metered and five residential permit parking spaces, Langford said.

On Portland Avenue, Langford said the local street does not have any bike lanes but the city proposed adding sharrow signage from First to Seventh Avenue. He also said the road is too narrow to fit bicycle lanes.

No more meetings will happen regarding bike lanes on Roosevelt Street due to paving prepwork beginning the week of Nov. 11, said Kini Knudson, director of the Phoenix Street Transportation Department.

Since 2015, the City of Phoenix has added 157 miles of bike lanes, Knudson said, and the city plans to create 100 more miles of bike lanes in the next 4 years.

In addition, he said the city plans to “revamp” the first bicycle master plan in the spring that was adopted by the city council five years ago.

“It’s our department’s job to make sure that we are making the best decision and evaluating all of these options to make the best decision for our public [and] for the city of Phoenix,” Knudson said.

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