Raleigh’s UDO is a rather complicated (and rather important) document that guides much of Raleigh’s growth. In it are a set of recommendations that help determine everything from how a parcel is zoned to what a street cross section looks like. Remember this post from last week where we talked about different cross sections we’d like to see? Well to date, the UDO or Bike Raleigh plan really don’t do a very good job of prescribing any of these as recommended facilities – especially the kind we think are vital for encouraging mode shift – protected, separated and above the curb treatments.
That’s where some tentative changes that are currently being discussed by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission (BPAC) come in. These changes would only be looking at 4 and 6-lane road ways, and would only apply to newly constructed facilities, so unfortunately, that leaves much of the downtown core unchanged by these proposed recommendations (more on the downtown plans next week).
The Commission has voiced concerns over the past year that current facilities that are being installed will 1) never be used and 2) are dangerous by design. If we’re putting a bike lane on the side of a fast moving corridor with a 45 MPH design speed, it’s pretty obvious to most users (no matter the mode) that this is a piece of infrastructure that has near zero utility. No matter their speed, most bicycle users don’t feel safe with 3″ of paint separating them from a vehicle barreling past. There are some vehicular cyclists that *do* like these facilities but statistically this group of folks is around 1% of all bike riders and it probably doesn’t make sense to design our facilities in a way that 99% of people don’t feel comfortable using it. Right?
Currently, our UDO prescribes that all 6-lane and 4-lane divided road ways include a painted bike lane, like this example from Chapel Hill:
Would you feel safe on this facility? Or would you use the sidewalk?
A few recommendations have formed from this discussion. First, we need to get cyclists off this highway, and above the curb. A few points of consideration. For the 6-lane, divided configuration, something similar to the following would being considered:
This is an application from Jackson Hole, WY that closely mirrors what this would be looking to achieve. The Raleigh application would have a larger planting strip and a slight buffer between the road and the bike path.
This would provide a buffer (albeit a small one) between the cyclist and the moving cars, and perhaps most importantly, would pull them up above the curb. Ideally it would be great to have the bigger tree buffer between the road and the cycle path but there are site requirement distances that prohibit that from working from NCDOT.
For 6-lane with on-street parking, the proposed configuration would be something similar to this:
For 4-lane, with on-street this would be a potential configuration:
It would look similar to this facility in Chicago, add or take away a few lanes:
And this would be an example of what the 4-lane divided option could look like with no-parking.
Are there things you would change or improve? Share your thoughts with us!