Construction on city’s first bike boulevard beginning soon
Construction on the city’s first official bike boulevard is set to begin in less than two weeks.
The city hired two contractors to complete the work on Fourth Avenue and Fontana Avenue from University Boulevard to Prince Road. (Check out the map at the end of the post) Construction starts on Feb. 7 and according to Tom Thivener, the city’s bike and pedestrian program manager, should be completed by the end of March.
The plans, which can be viewed here, include several features designed to push traffic onto major roads rather than using Fourth Avenue as a cut-through street.
Cyclist Martha Retallick, creator of Bicycle Stock Images, lives along Fourth Avenue and says she supports the bike boulevard and hopes the traffic calming works, but she isn’t convinced.
“If it stops people from driving like bats out of hell on Fourth Avenue, I’m for it,” Retallick said. “People come north from Speedway through here and they are really moving. I hope this slows it down, but I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Thivener said the plans include forcing drivers at many of the major intersections to turn on a busier street rather than continuing along Fourth Avenue and Fontana Avenue.
“If you go out there today, it does not feel like a residential street at all,” he said. “It feels like a higher speed collector street. A lot of motorists know that it is a perfect cut-through. That is going to be a surprise to a lot of the motorists who use that corridor as a cut-through. They will probably go back to driving on Sixth Avenue or Euclid.”
Thivener said he is excited about getting the first official bike boulevard completed in Tucson. Unfortunately, he said, there isn’t enough money to upgrade the crossing signal at Fontana Avenue and Ft. Lowell Road, but the city will work on securing funding to make the signal more friendly for bikes.
According to Thivener, completing the bike boulevard is a great first step, but then they will need to get people out on it.
“Getting the improvements in is only half the battle,” Thivener said. “Encouraging folks in those neighborhoods to use it is the other half. Just because you build it doesn’t mean people will come in droves to use it. I definitely think we’ll see bike use increase on the corridor, but the next step is really encouraging use.”
Retallick said she learned a long time ago that evangelizing about bikes doesn’t get more people on them and isn’t sure the bike boulevard will encourage any of her neighbors to start riding their bikes.
Check out other stories about bike boulevards:
View 4th Ave/Fontana Bike Boulevard in a larger map