Walkable West Palm Beach


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Flagler Bridge update

 

In February 2015, I sent a letter to FDOT requesting that the new Flagler Bridge design comply with new guidelines for buffered bike lanes (at a minimum). This was after a series of blog posts written by another contributor to the blog, which discussed how to make Flagler Bridge a better, safer link between the island of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach by including a protected bike lane.

In June, FDOT District 4 replied and agreed to modify the original design to accommodate buffered bike lanes on the bridge. As we reported at the time:

Mr. Bailey,

We appreciate your interest in the bike facilities on the Flagler Bridge project.  The project team has reviewed your February 14, 2015 request and will implement the following lane configuration. A depiction is shown in the attached bridge typical section.

  • Reduce the vehicle travel lanes from four-12ft lanes to four-11ft lanes.  This will align with the proposed 11ft lanes east and west of the bridge.  This change provides an added benefit of increased space for bicyclists near the drainage inlets that collect storm water runoff from the bridge.
  • Provide a 2.5ft striped buffer between the travel lanes and bike lane.
  • Provide a 6ft bike lane.
  • Provide a “gutter stripe” 1.5ft from the roadway side of the barrier wall located between the bike lane and the sidewalk.

Thank you again for your continued interest in the successful completion of the Flagler Bridge project.  If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Jim Hughes, the Department’s project manager, at 954-777-4419 or via email at james.hughes@dot.state.fl.us.

Gerry O’Reilly, PE
District Four Secretary
Florida Department of Transportation

The new bridge just opened. Here is what the new bridge section looks like at this stage:

img_7323

You might be wondering where the buffered bike lanes are. I spoke with a construction foreman at the site, and he said this is just the first phase of the bridge reopening. A second phase will restripe the bridge lanes and will include buffered bike lanes, I’m happy to report.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!


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It’s not easy being green

The Palm Beach Post reports on the bright green bike lanes that have received both praise and pushback from some residents in Delray Beach.

I made the following comment on the Delray Beach community Facebook group, Delray RAW:

As much as I’m a supporter of human powered transportation modes, I think these green painted lanes are ugly. Victor Dover in his book Street Design speaks of the importance of streets that are more than utilitarian – they should also be beautiful.

I much prefer the Dutch approach, actually putting down a red asphalt during resurfacing. It wears much better than paint and isn’t obnoxious.

…I’m not saying I would be *opposed* to this green treatment altogether if the only option. I just think it’s regrettable that we have to follow dumb standards that prescribe bright green paint, rather than something that reflects the community desire better.

The Post story suggests that there may be more leeway in the design book for colored bike lanes that fit the context of the street better. I hope that we will apply a little more creativity in the future. I’m a big fan of the Dutch approach to bike lane coloring, as described by the excellent Bicycle Dutch blog. Here is what a typical Dutch bike lane looks like after some years of use. Still easily demarcated from the road, but not so bright that it overwhelms the character of the street.

bikes-side2-12346.jpg

 

Contrast that with the bright green lanes being built in the U.S. and it feels a little bit like a case of “bikewashing”: putting in infrastructure that calls attention to itself more than necessary in order to win praise from bike advocates.

The road and bike path at Delray’s Del-Ida Park Historic District are now open to traffic — in case you haven’t already noticed. The bright green bike paths along the recently renovated roadway have captured the …

I’ll take these green lanes if no other option is available, but I wish these bike lanes would fit better into the context of the street.

Do you like these green lanes as-is or wish they were a little more understated?

 

 

 

via Is the green color of Del-Ida bike paths in Delray Beach too ‘jarring’? — Southern Palm Beach County


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Bridges, bike lanes, and Tri-Rail bike cars: Recent media coverage

In case you missed it: Walkable West Palm Beach was interviewed for two stories this week that ran in local newspapers. Angel Streeter of The Sun Sentinel wrote a story on bike lanes and bridges, and Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post did a story on the new bike cars on Tri-Rail trains.

bike-car-one

New Tri-Rail bike car has space for 14 bikes. Photo: The Palm Beach Post


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Walkable West Palm Beach featured on WPTV

I was featured today in a piece by reporter Brian Entin of WPTV. The report focuses on FDOT’s decision to provide better bike facilities on the Flagler Bridge; a change Walkable WPB has been advocating since earlier this year.

Link to the video.

From the story:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – It’s proof one voice can make a big difference.

A downtown West Palm Beach bicyclist and walkability blogger wrote the Florida Department of Transportation concerned about the small shoulder serving as a bike lane in the new Flagler Memorial Bridge plans.

And the response he received in the mail shocked him.

“It is always kind of surprising when FDOT responds positively to a request like this,” Jesse Bailey said.
// In a letter to Bailey, FDOT engineers acknowledged his ideas and even implemented most of them.

“The project is well underway, they have already commenced construction, and for them to make the changes at the last minute is very commendable,” Bailey said.

Among the changes to the 94 million dollar project include reducing the vehicle lanes from 12 to 11 feet, adding a two foot buffer, and also including a six-foot bike lane.

News of the changes spread to area bike shops.

“We are thoroughly happy. It will make the bridge safer not only for competitive cyclists, but for moms, dads, and children,” owner of Top Cycle Palm Beach Patrick Poupart said.

The Flagler Bridge project is expected to be finished in 2016.


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Thank you, FDOT, for designing a more bike friendly Flagler Bridge

Good news, friends. We recently received an email from new FDOT District 4 Secretary Gerry O’Reilly, in followup to our requests for a better, safer design on the Flagler Bridge reconstruction. Here’s the email reply, pasted below, along with a typical bridge section.

Mr. Bailey,

We appreciate your interest in the bike facilities on the Flagler Bridge project.  The project team has reviewed your February 14, 2015 request and will implement the following lane configuration. A depiction is shown in the attached bridge typical section.

  • Reduce the vehicle travel lanes from four-12ft lanes to four-11ft lanes.  This will align with the proposed 11ft lanes east and west of the bridge.  This change provides an added benefit of increased space for bicyclists near the drainage inlets that collect storm water runoff from the bridge.
  • Provide a 2.5ft striped buffer between the travel lanes and bike lane.
  • Provide a 6ft bike lane.
  • Provide a “gutter stripe” 1.5ft from the roadway side of the barrier wall located between the bike lane and the sidewalk.

Thank you again for your continued interest in the successful completion of the Flagler Bridge project.  If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Jim Hughes, the Department’s project manager, at 954-777-4419 or via email at james.hughes@dot.state.fl.us.

Gerry O’Reilly, PE
District Four Secretary
Florida Department of Transportation

2015-07-02 16_36_09-Flagler Roadway Plan Updated 02-19-15.pdf - Adobe Acrobat

This is a very substantial improvement in bike facilities compared to the prior design, which was essentially a bike lane that shared space in the shoulder, as we wrote about in a prior blog piece titled “Why Johnny still won’t be able to ride to the beach”. This new design narrows the travel lanes from twelve feet to eleven feet, provides a striped buffer, and a generous bike lane of 6 feet wide.

Is this the ideal outcome? No. We had hoped for a protected bike lane, with a physical barrier between cars and bicyclists. We will continue to advocate for FDOT to implement safer designs on bridges that physically separate both pedestrians and bicyclists from fast-moving cars, so that little Johnny will indeed be able to ride to the beach comfortably and safely one day.

Nonetheless, as this design was already well under way and FDOT showed a willingness to take our concerns seriously for better bike facilities, Mr. O’Reilly and staff are to be commended for hearing the community’s voice.

 

 

 


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Dutch to copy revolutionary American separated bike lane planning guide

Stating it would “totally revolutionize” bike facilities in the United States, John Forester of the Federal Highway Administration spoke to various bike and walk advocates on Monday to answer questions about the new FHWA separated bike lane planning guide.

“With this guide, we’ve unleashed American ingenuity and know-how to solve a problem that no one else has considered. Actually, we didn’t consider if anyone else had considered the problem, because from the outset this was about getting the best in good ‘ol American design, and we want our bike lane guide to become part of Americana lore. Our hope is that Don McLean writes a song about our manual some day.”

The creators of the manual noted that crashes at intersections made up 90 percent of the crashes that did occur — up from 70 percent before the facility was installed — indicating that intersections are where they need to put their focus. They did just that. Diagrams below from the manual show some of the intersection treatments. We rode with a Chevy Suburban driver, who answered our questions while fumbling with her cellphone. “This is great. I expect that next time I make this right turn going 25 mph, this green paint will stop me in my tracks. After all, someone’s kid could be riding in that lane”, said Kailyn Smith. “Knowing this is here would encourage me to get my 8 year old biking”, she stated as we drove to pick up her daughter from soccer practice a half mile from her house.

“Our new guidance will apply everywhere in the same way. Want to ride your bike on State Road 7? There’s an APP (Applied Principle for bicycle Parity) for that. Page 2,343 specifies how to make a safe bike lane in this intersection. Just add a mixing zone!” Photo below shows where this might apply: The bike lane is between the triple left turn lanes and 4 through lanes, and the double right turn lanes.

stateroad7now

State Road 7, Western Palm Beach County

Asked about the proven Dutch and Danish designs that have had 30 plus years of real world testing, Forester scoffed at the notion. “That might work in Europe, but this is America. Here, we expect ice in our iced tea, and a certain level of challenge in our bike lanes. It’s the American way.”


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FDOT embraces buffered bike lanes and narrower lanes

Roadway Design Bulletin 14-7 is a very dry sounding title for a very important policy shift at the Florida Department of Transportation. The bulletin allows for narrower lanes and makes a 7’ wide bike lane (2’ buffer + 5’ bike lane) the default choice for projects in or within one mile of an urban area.

For divided roadways with a design speed of 45 miles per hour and less within one mile of an urban area the default lane width for new construction has been reduced from the interstate standard width of 12’ to 11’ in width. For the 10′ lane lovers the commentary includes an especially notable teaser:

In the case of urban arterials it was determined, through an expert panel review process, that lane widths between 10 and 12 feet are acceptable on urban arterials and do not cause safety problems. There is no significant correlation between lane width and safety performance for the range of facilities studied.

From the bulletin it appears that the main reason why the new standard lane width wasn’t reduced to 10′ was due concerns about the safety and performance when a high percentage of truck and bus traffic exists.

The new standard for bike lanes in or within one mile of an urban area is 7’. The previous standard bike lane was 5’ in width. The new bike lane will consist of a 2’ wide buffer and a 5’ wide bike lane. Next to on-street parking  a 3’ wide buffer will be provided in the door zone of the parked car and the bike lane will be 4′. The buffer will be hatched on a 10’ diagonal spacing. It is commended that FDOT standards now acknowledge the door zone issue.

Here are a few details of the new buffered bike lane standard:BufferedBike1 BufferedBike2

It should be noted that this standard is for new construction. The bulletin also improved the decision making matrix on how to attempt to fit these bike lanes into existing roads.

During a January 21st webinar on the new policy, FDOT cited improved sight distance at driveways and the ability for cyclists to exhibit lane control if a vehicle were to use the bike lane as a right turn lane. (Note: A passenger car is 6’ wide so it is possible that some cars will use the 7’ wide lane as a deceleration lane).  When asked about physical buffered bike lanes such as placing bike lanes behind parallel parked cars, FDOT stated these methods are still experimental (30 years of practice in the Netherlands doesn’t count!) and they are waiting on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to complete a report on cycle tracks before they consider changing policy.

This new policy is a welcomed improvement and it will address poor designs such as what is proposed for the new Flagler Bridge. The new Flagler Bridge is proposed to have 12’ wide travel lanes with 5’ bike lanes and 35 MPH posted speed limit. One of Walkable West Palm Beach’s proposed solutions is to reduce the two travel lanes in each direction from 12’ to 11’ and provide a 2’ buffer for the bike lane. It isn’t too late to correct this mistake. Please, contact FDOT and request that the 12’ lanes are reduced. After all the existing Flagler Bridge had 10’ wide lanes for 75 years.

ACTION: Send emails to the below addresses, to ask for design changes to the project to make it bike-friendly and safe:

flaglerproject@nmdceng.net

Public Information Officer: Tish.Burgher@qcausa.com

Jim Wolfe, FDOT District 4: James.Wolfe@dot.state.fl.us

FDOT Pedestrian and Bike coordinator: Billy.Hattaway@dot.state.fl.us