Potential Boulder Transportation Innovations

Portland Bike Box by Derek Severson on flickr

Much cheaper than an underpass…

The Camera reports (in a pleasantly positive light) that Boulder is exploring a variety of low-cost bike and transit improvements.  Underpasses and separated trails are awesome, but quite costly, and often depend on external funding sources.  Thankfully there are also locally fundable small-scale improvements that can go a long way toward improving the quality of service for bikes and transit users.  Most of them are just better paint, information, and organization of the streets, but represent potentially large quality of service improvements.

Painted bike boxes, which provide clearly designated priority and highly visible space for cyclists at selected intersections:

Neighborhood greenways, which allow bike and pedestrian traffic through-access, and either calm motorized traffic, or aggressively optimize it for local residents only.  Fourth St. in Boulder is kind of like this, as are the east-west streets passing through the Goss Grove neighborhood.

Timing some strings of lights for bikes, as has been done to great effect in San Francisco, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and other cycling cities.  I’m a little bit skeptical of the applicability of this particular facility to Boulder, as I don’t ever find myself encountering long strings of lights here the same way I did in Los Angeles, or other large, busy, gridded cities.

Allowing 2-way bike traffic on selected 1-way streets.  This would be especially nice in the downtown area, in order to give the easiest possible access to non-motorized transportation downtown.  More than anything, downtown needs more people on the streets, and there just isn’t space for all of them to come by car.  Another good place for this would be between 15th and 17th, heading into Goss-Grove from the Teahouse/Farmers Market area.  The protected contra-flow lane on 13th St. is wonderful of course, but this kind of facility doesn’t have to be costly.

Other suggested projects were an eco-pass product from RTD for relatively large, dense, mixed-use developments like the one going in at Boulder Junction in the Transit Village, real-time transit information as is now being provided by Muni in SF, and more and better traffic counting devices which collect data on bike and pedestrian volumes and patterns, rather than focusing so much just on cars.

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4 Responses to Potential Boulder Transportation Innovations

  1. Kurt Nordback says:

    A good candidate for signal timing optimized for bikes is 13th St. downtown. It’s a main bike route but doesn’t make sense for automobile through-traffic when Broadway is just a block over. In the northbound direction, you have to go faster than most bikers’ comfortable speed in order to make all the lights as they’re currently timed.

  2. Chuck says:

    I haven’t quite figured out what the bike boxes really do. You pull up in front of cars, wait for the light to change, and then…pull back into the bike lane? I can see that it would help avoid right hook accidents at red lights if a bike is pinched against the curb by a really inattentive driver, but this seems unlikely. Can anyone come up with other examples that show the benefits?

    • Zane Selvans says:

      I think the right hook is the main issue that the bike boxes address. They also help drivers on busy bike corridors, by allowing all of the bikes to bunch up at the front, so that drivers turning right don’t have to wait for (and be frustrated by) a long stream of bikes passing on the right — they all leave immediately as soon as the light changes. As a bike, you don’t have to wonder if the cars to your left see you, or whether they’re turning but not using their signals. You’re directly in front of them and very visible.

  3. cb says:

    Denver will have it’s first bike box installed this year, downtown on 14th Avenue! Totally stoked. Can’t wait.

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