The Goss-Grove neighborhood is a quiet residential enclave in the center of Boulder, bounded by Canyon to the north, Arapahoe to the south, 17th St. to the west, and Folsom to the east. It’s quiet largely because it’s nearly cut off from the rest of the street network. The only through access to the area for cars is 22nd Street, which connects Canyon and Arapahoe north-south. At the same time though, the area is relatively permeable to bikes and pedestrians, with little pocket parks and community gardens making some of the north-south connections at 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Streets, which all connect Arapahoe and Canyon. Running east-west, Grove Street becomes Grove Circle, connecting 15th all the way to Folsom St. for pedestrians.
If you’re willing to walk through the parking lot by James Travel and Mondo Robot, you can get all the way from the Farmer’s Market to McGuckins on very quiet streets.
As a bicyclist, you can get through too, but it’s not designed to make it easy. With some relatively minor changes to the Grove corridor, we’d be well on the way toward creating a Neighborhood Greenway like the ones Portland, Oregon has been putting in. Streetfilms looked at them in this video:
Goss-Grove would be a great corridor to develop for bikes, since riding on either Canyon or Arapahoe is not particularly attractive. Canyon is a big, fast road, and Arapahoe isn’t really wide enough to safely share the lane with cars — you just have to take it and hope they pass you without too much honking. There’s the Boulder Creek Path of course, but it follows the creek as it bends southward, diverting you away from the main shopping destination. The next bike friendly corridor to the north is Walnut, and it veers northward just as far. Either of those options forces the rider to get onto Folsom, which does have a bike lane, but it’s not exactly what I’d call family friendly:
I already ride this corridor regularly because it’s quiet and direct, but it could be so much more accommodating. What would need to change? Three things.
The Obstacle Course
At the intersections of both 21st and 23rd St. with both Goss and Grove, you run into these bollards and chains, which can be especially scary at night if you’re not expecting them.
And then at 21st:
Some cyclists have made a track through the dirt, jumping the curb, and apparently cutting the chain to provide direct access east-west. We could formalize this connection for bikes, allowing easy passage both north-south and east-west through these four intersections.
The next obstacle is the fact that between 15th and 17th St. Grove is one-way, going only west. Today, many cyclists simply ignore this, and ride the wrong way down it for two blocks. Traffic is so low that conflicts are rare:
Or, if you’re stubbornly legalistic, you can jog half a block to the south and take the alley for two blocks.
Instead, we could make Grove 2-way (there’s plenty of right-of-way), and if the neighborhood still wants traffic mitigation on the street, a diverting treatment similar to the ones at the intersections of 21st, 23rd, Goss and Grove could be installed, directing eastbound traffic on Grove south onto 16th, and westbound traffic on Grove north to Canyon, but allowing bikes and pedestrians to pass freely through the intersection in any direction. Alternatively, the pedestrian refuge island at 17th could be extended to block through cars on Grove, but allow easy passage for bikes, along the lines of the median at Walnut and Folsom.
The last missing connection is the block between 15th and 14th Streets. You head north on 15th until you get to the parking lot next to Mondo Robot and James Travel:
which connects through to the stub that comes off of the Boulder Creek Path and passes between BMoCA and the Dushanbe Tea House
Ideally there’d be enough space along the irrigation canal that’s between The Rink building and James Travel to have the path take a more direct route for that one block before hooking up with Grove.
Understandably, the property owners here want to discourage any kind of “social” trail developing on their property along the canal.
Neighborhood Greenways or Bike Boulevards as they’re sometimes known, are a great addition to the infrastructure toolbox, because they’re attractive to the entire 8-80 year old cycling demographic, they help keep the neighborhoods they pass through calm and safe, and they don’t require (much) dedicated right of way — they just create corridors along which priority has been clearly given to people, instead of cars.
Goss-Grove is just one place that we might begin to introduce them as an option. 4th Street along the west edge of town is another corridor that’s well on its way, as is the 13th St. bikeway that parallels Broadway in the northern part of central Boulder. What are some other possibilities?