crossingsignWhile the family and I are on vacation, I thought it would be interesting to pose a few questions about biking in the Old Pueblo and allow Tucson Velo readers to voice you opinions about the topics. Please keep the discussion civil because I’d really prefer not to have to moderate comments on vacation.

A lot of people talked about separated infrastructure as being a key to get more people riding. Today’s question relates to that and bike boulevards. Here’s the question:

Are bike boulevards cheap (relatively) and politically easy alternatives to the superior separated bikeways on major streets? Should the city spend more time, money and political capital on separated paths on major streets like Chicago, San Francisco and New York instead of bike boulevards?

16 thoughts on “Community Question: Are bike boulevards a bandaid solution?”
  1. I think bike boulevards (or more aptly named, “”, since they appeal to more than just cyclists) are a more attractive feature when it comes to getting around the city. Personally, I would rather use a bike boulevard than a bike lane because of their more tranquil and often enjoyable nature (second only to the Loop). Unfortunately there aren’t enough of them. However, there are (according to the city’s bike map, as well as personal experience) plenty of low-traffic bike routes that would make good bike boulevards.

  2. Q1:  Are bike boulevards cheap (relatively) and politically easy alternatives to the superior separated bikeways on major streets?
    A:  Yes. Any cyclist on an arterial is a few minutes (in bike time) away from some kind of boulevard/neighborhood street if the arterial is daunting. The key for the city is to maintain the boulevards (pot holes, fissures, etc.); many of them are shot.
    Q2: Should the city spend more time, money and political capital on
    separated paths on major streets like Chicago, San Francisco and New
    York instead of bike boulevards?
    A:  Too costly for the Old Pueblo and politically not feasible. That doesn’t mean the city shouldn’t stripe and clean arterials. It should and generally does.
    These are general answers. Of course there are compact areas where separated paths might be optimal. 
    A couple of asides: the city really should connect Wilmot and Pantano, perhaps a mix of boulevards and separated paths. Also, Red Star would like the city to consider bike islands (aka bike refuges) in the middle of major arterials (Craycroft, for example) as a lower cost and more prevalent alternative to crossings such as 3rd/Swan. Cyclists will have to learn to work the traffic gaps (maybe!).

  3. Red StarThis: “The key for the city is to maintain the boulevards (pot holes, fissures, etc.); many of them are shot.” I love the bike boulevards, but I avoid 3rd street altogether due to the spine realignment I receive when I ride it these days.

  4. I think we will experience extreme diminishing returns if the city pursues the type of infrastructure it seems willing to provide. I don’t see the 4th Ave/Fontana boulevard as the respite corridor of bike travel that it was portrayed to be. The city says we will need a network of them to be viable. I’m not willing to wait twenty years to see if that pans out.
    I see surprising bike usage of  1st Ave. Why aren’t they (and I) opting for 4th/Fontana? Lots of bikes on Tucson Blvd. despite Treat’s signaled crossings of arterials. And Mountain surely carries more car traffic than Park or Tucson.
    If the city wants to increase bike trips by attracting car-oriented folks out of their cars, then why not take a car-oriented view of bike usage. Those types of trips are destination and goal driven….get there and back in reasonable time.
    Meaningful infrastructure would be a lane for bikes each direction on 5th/6th St., separated but not inaccessible (to cross) to cars that would service all the businesses from the back side on Speedway and Broadway to Wilmot. I think that is the form of network that is needed.
    Could Red Star be correct that too many of Jim Click’s posse are in position to see that bikes only get facilities that don’t inconvenience cars? Well, so far, that’s pretty much all we’ve gotten.

  5. The Loop, and Aviation bike path are the tops, but expensive and only feasible along margins.  For cutting thru town, I like 3rd St.  It needs to be repaved, and they need to turn a couple stop signs around, but otherwise it’s a great example of my preferred way to get about.  I also think refuge islands are better than stop lights.  I hate making anyone wait for me.  It kills me to push that stinking button.

  6. I do not see these Bike Boulevards (or, following NickHumphries, “Neighborhood Greenways”) as a mere bandaid solution. True, they are inexpensive to create in terms of signage and swapping a few stopsigns for yield signs. But inexpensive doesn’t mean ‘bandaid.’ If this is the most politically feasible way to get a well-connected type of bike infrastructure built, I am in favor of it.
    There is good evidence that some cyclists really prefer the safety and low bar to entry of these off-arterial neighborhood streets. That is a good reason to link them up, with safe methods of crossing busy streets. I’m not afraid to ride anywhere in town, including brief sprints down Country Club, but I recognize that other riders really do prefer the bike boulevard/neighborhood greenway system. We need to provide for that kind of rider also.
    I’m very pleased with all the road striping that Tucson has done over the past 6 or 7 years. It’s really improved connectivity in the city. The bike boulevards/neighborhood greenways are an important part of our connectivity.

  7. @zz I do believe the 5th/6th St. needs a road diet…  Or turn one of those lane into bus/bike lane

  8. CodyM48 Red Star I agree that street needs to be repaved and also I would like to see part of Liberty Bike Blvd get repaved… they are so cratered which give you so bumpy ride so this force me to ride down on 6th ave bike lane or Santa Cruz bikeway.

  9. I think the bike boulevards/greenways are a very realistic way to actually get the infrastructure ball really rolling. There are several great “secondary street” candidates for both, East/West and North/South linkages to the loop, to each other, and to our main arterial roads. And, as it has been pointed out already, just the  -relatively cheap-  addition of lighted crossings, traffic islands (where needed), and pothole fixing/repaving is all it would take to gain an efficient network that would allow cyclists of all skill levels and bike sizes to get around, with the added bonus of no high-speed car traffic to contend with (and that is a HUGE barrier for many would-be bicycle riders). 
    Also, I’m pretty sure that trying for any kind of road “diet” for cars, no matter how needed (yep, 5th/6th Streets, and Country Club do immediately come to mind), and/or separated bike lanes a la NYC, Chicago, etc. would be met with histrionic opposition. While most drivers, I think, would actually not have an issue with the boulevard thing.

  10. @UA biker I should have scrolled down before I posted, as we both just said basically the same thing. =)
    And, kudos to you for actually having the guts to ride on Country Club!

  11. nickhumphries Yeah, that’s one of the main reasons why I ride the “back streets” almost exclusively (or will again, when I get my new trike).  I too, prefer to take the slightly “meandering” way around to my destination, and enjoy the ride itself, and the sights.  Much better than the high stress of dealing with fast car traffic. =)

  12. Hey can someone be so kind as to educate me as to what is meant by “bike boulevard”? perhaps also some samples (can i see these in google maps? What happens at intersections? The pic Mike posted has a little placard “bikes use ped signal”.??

  13. I much prefer the hawkeye stop lights for crossing Swan for the 3rd Street bike boulevard. If I am commuting at rush hour I don’t want to rush across the lanes to get to a “refuge island” just to have to wait again to finish crossing. I hate making anyone wait for me but I’d rather be safe than play frogger which I think it reinforced through refuge island.  I think these hawkeyes bring awareness as well as anger on the part of the drivers but I think they need that reinforcement that we’re there. I also like being able to move across all those lanes of traffic in one easy pass.

  14. Red Star EdBeighe ah, thanks (on second thought — why didn’t i google that for myself?? sorry).

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