A report released last night (PDF here) on the April 16th open house for the North Williams Traffic Safety Operations Project shows that, after hearing overwhelming support from the community, PBOT and their project team will further consider reducing Williams to one lane for motor vehicle traffic in the commercial district between known as Segment 4.
PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice told us via email today that, “Based on the public input we’ve received, the project team is investigating options for N Williams that would convert a traffic lane in Segment 4.”
PBOT surprised many in the community by showing up at the first open house with the commercial district between N Cook and Skidmore as the only segment of the project where an existing vehicle lane wouldn’t be re-allocated to make room for an “enhanced bikeway.”
While it’s far from a done deal, Vanderslice says making Williams into one lane for motor vehicles will receive further consideration both from PBOT engineers and project consultants.
At the open house, attendees made it clear that they wanted the City to put that option back on the table. Here’s an excerpt from the report:
“The choice to not convert parking or motor vehicle travel lanes in Segment 4 was the single most popular comment at the workshop and also created significant discussion on local bicycling blogs.”
Also notable, in terms of what type of bikeway will end up being built on Williams, is that a large majority of open house attendees put their support behind a separated cycle track.
Asked what type of bikeway options they support, 120 out of 194 respondents voted for the cycle track because it would provide the most separation, would help minimize bus/bike and dooring conflicts, and because it could handle bike traffic capacity. (Other options receiving votes were “leave the street as is” with 21 votes and “enhanced/buffered bikeway” with 53 votes.)
Another takeaway form the open house, according to the report, was a “high level of discussion about the potential for North Williams Avenue to become a “platinum level” bikeway.” Among the ideas that were popular at the open house that “will be further considered by the project team” are (emphasis mine):
- Reducing the width of motor vehicle travel lanes between Weidler Street and Broadway and using the additional space to develop a dual-lane bikeway. This option provides an opportunity for faster cyclists to pass slower cyclists and when not in use the additional lane provides a buffer from motor vehicle traffic. This also allows three northbound vehicle lanes to be maintained.
- Converting a motor vehicle travel lane in the commercial district (Segment 4) to provide an enhanced bikeway and applying peak hour parking restrictions on one side of the street to create two motor vehicle travel lanes during the busiest times.
- Instead of an advisory bike lane in Segment 4, adding shared lane markings (SLM’s) in the adjacent travel lane as an option for bicycling outside the door zone. In addition, bicyclists and motorists are more familiar with the meaning of SLM’s compared to an advisory bike lane.
- Consider a shared bus/bike lane to reduce conflicts between these two modes.
- A number of other ideas including angle parking, a shared parking access and bicycle lane, and other concepts will also be considered further.
In her comments, Vanderslice was careful to make sure everyone understands this is an ongoing, community process. PBOT and their project team plan to meet with retail businesses in Segment 4 to hear their opinions next week.
The next Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting for this project is June 7th. We’ll keep you posted on how things develop.