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Sixth Avenue’s two-way traffic to be extended

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 8.28.37 PMConstruction to permanently convert Sixth Avenue from one-way travel to two-way travel has started and is extending the change to Drachman Street.

During the streetcar construction Sixth Avenue has been  two way  from Broadway Boulevard to Sixth Street. Currently the street is still one way from Speedway to Drachman.

Following the construction, which should be wrapped up at the end up August, Sixth Avenue will be two way for the entire length of the street.

Project manager Sam Credio said there will be a lot of work happening between now and the end of August. Crews will begin working on the pavement and converting traffic signals to allow for the two-way travel.

Ann Chanecka, Tucson’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager said there will be one travel lane in each direction with a center turn lane.

She said there will not be bike lanes, but there will be sharrows along the route.

Chanecka said the new configuration should slow drivers down. She said the current configuration with three lanes in one direction often made people treat the street like a freeway.

Credio said the project will also improve pedestrian amenities in the area.

The conversion will give cyclists and alternative route into downtown allowing bike riders to avoid riding along the streetcar line.

What do you think? Do you like the change?

13 comments
Suzanne
Suzanne like.author.displayName 1 Like

Well, alternatives are good and I sure hope Ann's right that this slows traffic and makes 6th more bikeable. But if I were a 4th Ave merchant with any sense I would be greatly saddened at the potential loss of pass-by bicycle traffic. They are SO missing the boat by not getting behind us big-time on eliminating car parking along 4th Ave. Is the Downtown Links project going to make the 6th Ave underpass easier to bike through (and emerge from)?

Mtngoat
Mtngoat

@Suzanne I agree that the 4th Ave Merchants abandoned us cyclists when they fought against removing car parking in the streetcar planning process. I support the overtly bike friendly businesses on 4th still, but the whole streetcar thing makes me far less likely to use it as a primary route and with 6th opening up a better connection I foresee far less bike traffic on 4th.

zz
zz

@Mtngoat I foresee increased auto traffic on 6th Ave. in avoidance of the cluster on 4th Ave. Cars won't be able to pass the streetcar, but will always attempt to pass bikes-safely or not. If the proposed profile for 6th Ave. was implemented on any other connector, say Glenn or Tucson, where parking was allowed and the stripe replaced with sharrows, it would ruin the route for bikes. Cyclists are unsure of the rights a sharrow is supposed to provide and the presence of sharrows is too intermittent and subject to deterioration for cars to pay much attention. Part of the deal for 6th Ave. should be continuity...like it is north of Drachmann. No parking and a bike lane. The current plan creates a squeeze that is just asking for trouble.

zz
zz

I'm missing the big deal here. They're creating a two-way street and putting sharrows in the travel lane of a connector. The underpass leading to the five-points intersection is reason alone to avoid the route. I don't see what's so attractive about it.

zz
zz like.author.displayName 1 Like

@zz I would like to suggest that sharrows not be used at all on this project. Sharrows are subject to motorists interpretation. Instead, use the signage: (bikes) MAY USE FULL LANE to unquestionably assert bike's right to be there.

Orvis
Orvis

@zz Cyclists as traffic calming devices.  Very much akin to the situation along Stone and 6th Ave.south of downtown where the narrow bike lane is completely in the door zone.  I was told that the Armory Park folks wanted narrower lanes north of 5 points to slow automobile traffic.  

Orvis
Orvis

@zz I think sharrows would have been a better choice on 6th Ave and Stone because the posted speeds on these streets are 25 mph and there isn't lane width for the parking and the bike lanes so cyclists ride in the door zone along that entire corridor.  Not that you couldn't ride in the street but the automobilists have an expectation that if there's a bike lane you should darn well be in it.  I haven't been out there with a tape measure but my guess is those bike lanes are sub standard anyhow.  The widths are likely less than the AASHTO standard for what gets to be called a bike lane.  

I like your idea of posting signs, cyclists may use whole lane, explicit seems better than implicit.  I'm not sure very many people actually understand what the sharrow symbols mean and they do rapidly disappear once cars start driving over them.  

Donovan Durband the COT Parkwise director made the point that Modern St Car will bring increased automobile traffic to areas amidst the route.  It seems likely that 4th Ave will quickly reach saturation levels of traffic.  The next step will be cars fanning out in all directions to try and get out from under the sublimation that saturation  causes.  Your thought that the traffic patterns on 6th Ave will be in flux seems to me to be right on the mark.  I'm not expecting the traffic there to decrease.  

zz
zz

@Orvis The intent of sharrows is for lane-sharing traffic that's moving at about the same speed. Not necessarily for slowing cars down. In a low speed residential setting, universal use is OK. In higher speed situations, they are more appropriate for downgrades where bikes can move close to the speed of cars. They are not intended for upgrades where bike's and car's speeds are very much different. That's what bikes lanes are for. They know this downtown and that's why I think their attitude toward this profile change is "throw some sharrows down on the pavement and call it done".

E
E

@zz I agree, at least the underpass should very clearly be marked to accommodate bicyclists.  The old 4th Ave underpass is now mostly a distant memory but I had some really scary moments in there, taking the lane and having people honk and yell at me and try to pass. 

Mtngoat
Mtngoat

This is SO FANTASTIC and totally overdue! Thanks Ann for pushing for this change and making it happen at last!

David
David like.author.displayName 1 Like

That will make the 6th Ave/University Street intersection awfully interesting, as bikers have to learn to look north as well as south for oncoming cars....

Mtngoat
Mtngoat

@David I think we will adjust. And it is well worth the convenience of not having to make the jog over to 4th Ave to get downtown when coming from north on the Fontana Bike Boulevard!

Orvis
Orvis

@Mtngoat You'd be one of the 3 people who actually use the Fontana Bike Blvd. then.  Every time I've ever been on it there's never any bicycles except on the stretch between Grant Rd and Speedway.  Many more bikes on 1st Ave.  It's a road to nowhere.  It dead ends into Prince which has a narrow bike lane that connects to Stone with an even narrower bike lane.  How are you liking that smooth pavement on 4th Ave?  If Tucson ever does bike share they'll need to share full suspension mountain bikes.  Nobody I know likes riding through the 6th Ave tunnel.  No repaving in sight for that one any time soon.  6th Ave doesn't address the loss of the best east west and north south bike routes to downtown, namely University Blvd and 4th Avenue.  

Look for Parkwise to try and put in a 20k a space parking garage in the 4th Avenue area.  The irony and legacy of the Modern Street Car will turn out to be that alternate modes of transportation end up being pushed out be the rising tide of cars in the downtown area.  If you build it we'll need a parking garage.  But wait there is hope.  Trade on street car parking on 4th Avenue for a garage.  I'd be all for that especially if the city didn't own or run the garage.  Municipally owned parking facilities are a really bad idea because they aren't market driven.  Read Donald Shoup's book the High Price of Free Parking.

Look at the currently under utilised Centro Garage.  The ramp to parking space configuration is dreadful.  Those parking spaces were expensive because of this.  And why is the footprint of the Centro Garage shaped the way it is?  Because Jim Campbell wanted to build on top of it.  It's also why the 4th Avenue tunnel is a deathtrap for cyclists.  Currently Centro Garage is being used to allow developments without parking to be built.  The developers are asking for Individual Parking Plans and buying space in the garage because they don't have it on site.  If the garage were run as a business it would be a failed one.  Currently Parkwise's garages are subsidised by the revenues from the Main Gate parking meters.  

It actually gets worse down the road.  Bike ped accesses to downtown will end up severed in the next decade when the construction of the final segment of the Downtown Links project begins.  7th Avenue is not going to be a connection north across 6th St.  Yes you'll be able to cross at 6th st but you get across the tracks on the wrong side of the Links.  Imagine Stone only worse.  All of the recent downtown development is car centric and heavily subsidised by roadway projects.  Nobody can make a case of the Downtown Links project being funded by gas taxes or user fees because it isn't.  The RTA is sales tax funded.  Modern St Car to the tune of 220 million is RTA and TIGR funded.  TIGR funding is general revenue not gas taxes.  

What Tucson bicycle infrastructure currently lacks are connections.  Ride east on the 3rd path and after you wend your way through the maze between Swan and Wilmot you're stranded.  Try getting from the Aviation Path to Houghton safely.  Fontana dying at Prince.  Try getting anywhere south, you have to cross the death zones under I-10.  Merging high speed traffic.  The same is true of Speedway and St Mary's at the freeway.  Forget Grant, it's the worst.  Imagine if roadways for cars were all disconnected and difficult to access and use and they were unsafe.  

By the way I ride all of these roads.  They don't stop me but I'm not who the city should be trying to get to ride a bicycle.  I've been riding all of my adult life and while I'm annoyed by the impediments I'm even more annoyed by being in a car.  We've seen the path to Platinum bike city status.  I'm not convinced this region is on it.