I participated in a Cleveland Campus District bicycle and pedestrian assessment last Tuesday. Here is a copy of the thoughts I sent to the organizing groups:
It was nice to meet you all on the assessment last week. I've been meaning to send in my responses before now, but I had too many other things to do. As a (sorta) transportation engineer/scientist, I'd like to offer some candid thoughts on both the area and the survey. I hope that is fine. I've decided to not send in the answers to the survey itself because I felt there was an underlying bias in the survey (rating very specific areas and questions that lead the respondent to answer the way the survey designer wanted them too). I'll just list some general notes on what I see as the issues in the area in no particular order (FYI: I just moved to town and have been bicycling/walking the area 5-6 days a week for the past month and a half).
- There are few to no triggers for traffic lights when you are bicyclist (i.e. detectors that pick sense a bicyclist nor push buttons).
- Pedestrians crossing Euclid have to wait a long time to for the walk signal and many people jay walk (in cross walks) due to this.
- Automobile drivers are notorious for parking in the crosswalks and over the white stop line when waiting at a red light. This includes RTA drivers. I've been documenting this here: https://plus.google.com/photos/110966557175293116547/albums/5907970568566454593. I believe this is both due to the design of Euclid and the drivers not caring.
- RTA drivers do not seem to be trained with respect to driving safely in the presence of bicyclists. I've seen bicyclists be pinched to the side of the road when the bus pulls into the bicycle lane and lack of turn signal use, for example. Here is a photo: https://plus.google.com/photos/110966557175293116547/albums/5913841004100379137/5913841021511659634?pid=5913841021511659634&oid=110966557175293116547
- The crosswalks are not clearly marked, many being faded.
- Automobiles park in the bicycle lanes on Euclid with no regard that it is a transportation lane. photos here: https://plus.google.com/photos/110966557175293116547/albums/5913841004100379137
- There are no protected bicycling routes (i.e. cycle tracks or paths).
- There are few to no bicycle lanes.
- On community college road the cars are parked diagonally, nose-in on the north side of the road. There is a "seemingly bike lane like" area behind them (due to the white line). Drivers back out into the road right into the bicycle traffic. We saw this happen during the ride. Some vehicles are so long there that you are forced into the traffic lane.
- Few construction crews put up early warning signage if they are blocking the right side of the road which causes a bicyclist to veer into automobile traffic. (also seen on this ride).
- The bicycle lane on Euclid is generally a very nice place to ride due to low automobile traffic, a fairly wide bicycle lane but it unfortunately ends around 24th and I find it much more stressful to go past 24th.
- Glass and other sharp things are abundant in the bicycle lanes. I'm not sure if street sweeping happens and how well the are attentive to the right side of the road or bicycle lanes.
- The quality of the roads is horrendous (tons of pot holes). We experienced this in a number of places on the route. One example is on 22nd between Payne and Chester.
- Superior is extremely wide and busy with automobile traffic making crossing by bike or foot a stressful task. The area that was under construction which was reduced to 2 lanes had reasonable automobile speeds (i.e. very slow), maybe they should leave it 2 lanes.
- The sidewalks in front of the superior lofts were quit wide but not being used by the businesses for outdoor activities. There is even grassy areas on there, but they are blocked by metal railings. It would be preferable if these areas could be used by pedestrians and businesses.
- I see little reason to bicycle from downtown to the "lake's edge" because the bicycle route along North Marginal Road is not a pleasant place to ride. The roar of the highway, the pot holed road, poorly maintained bicycle path, and the fact that you aren't actually riding along the water's edge contribute to the less than fun ride. Maybe an east-west route along Lakeside that was very bike and ped friendly would be a better route for east/west travel between 9th and 55th.
- There are very few bicycle parking racks around the area. I find my self chaining to signs, posts, etc most of the time (except at CSU when I'm at work).
- In general, I, as a bicyclist, have to be extremely attentive to automobiles in the area. The drivers often behave in unpredictable ways and don't seem to be comfortable with bicyclists on the road. I have had people be aggressive.
- Bicyclists generally do not stop at red lights.
- There are some traffic lights specifically for pedestrian crossing to the bus terminals. These often trigger when there are no pedestrians in sight. It is frustrating for bicyclist and car a-like and promotes red light running.
Peter Furth has some nice ideas that he's been working on that I think are very relevant to the campus district: "Stress free bicycling", the idea that we should make changes that reduce the stress required to get from point A to B while riding a bicycle. The campus district area is by no means a stress free bicycling area. But there do exist similar urban areas in the world that are in fact stress free. Peter has a nice objective assessment that he can do for cities where he creates a map of the city and categorizes each section of street under a stress free rating. The maps are very revealing showing ow isolated a bicyclists can be in a city if they aren't comfortable riding in less that stress free areas. A podcast on this idea can be found here on May 4, 2012: http://www.cts.pdx.edu/seminars/datearchives.php and here is a report: http://transweb.sjsu.edu/project/1005.html.
That's all for now, but I'm interested in helping you all and would love to know about the next assessment.