Cyclists using the Third Street Bikeway now have a better way to cross Swan Road. (See the video of the crossbike in action at the end of the post)
The City of Tucson activated the region’s first “crossbike” — a combination of a bicycle crossing and a crosswalk.
The crossing utilizes a traditional HAWK crossing, but adds features to make it more usable by bikes. The city added green pavement markings on either side of a traditional crosswalk to illustrate that cyclists will be present.
“Typically when you have just two white stripes it is insinuated that it is a pedestrian crossing only,” Tom Thivener, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager said. “We wanted to make a conscious attempt to make it obvious to users and motorists that bikes are to be expected as well.”
In addition to the pavement markings, the sign motorists see says “crossing” and shows a picture of a pedestrian and a bicycle.
Tucson Velo reader Alan Solot said in an email that he rides the route every day and that the intersection is an improvement.
He said now that he has ridden it a few times, it’s more clear how it is supposed to function. Here are his observations about the intersection.
The crossing is designed, as one is westbound, to be approached by going on the sidewalk from Hawthorne and NOT from 3rd St. They have the sidewalk marked with indicators to show that it’s OK to ride on the sidewalk. There are signs on Hawthorne to inform riders it’s OK to go on the sidewalk. I actually think they’ve designed a reasonable solution to the intersection for westbound riders. The problem I now see is that the bike route is signed to have westbound riders go to 3rd and not to Hawthorne. It needs to be re-signed and to make it clear that Hawthorne is now the way to go. (See the map)
(Editor’s note: I used Third Street instead of Hawthorne while shooting the video. I didn’t notice that Hawthorne appears to be the preferred route.
As for eastbound cyclists, Solot said it’s less comfortable because it requires cyclists to cross from the right side of the road to the left side and get onto the the sidewalk area in order to reach the crossing. His concern is that there may be cars turning right onto Third Street that could create a conflict with cyclists.
Thivener said he is working with the intersection designers and contrators to clean up that part of the intersection to make it easier to use.
Additionally the city is planning to create signals to tell cyclists when it is OK to cross and when they should stop. Cyclists will have a green crossing light when the HAWK is a solid red, but once the light begins to flash indicating the motorists can treat the intersection like a four-way stop, the cyclists’ light will be red.
Thivener said the crossbike didn’t cost much more than a regular HAWK. The additional expenses came from reengineering the sidewalks on either side of the signal and adding the green markings.
Similar treatments are in the works for a crossing along the El Paso Greenway at Granada and Cushing Street. The city is also investigating adding crossbikes to all the major intersections along the Aviation Bikeway.