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Guest Series: Carmen Godwin, Executive Director of RAP

Metro Jacksonville consistently offers the opportunity for our readers to absorb the editorials, personal accounts, and vocal opinions of some of the key players in the decision making process of our community. This week, Riverside Avondale Preservation Executive Director Carmen Godwin tells what one year without a car is like.

Published December 15, 2011 in Urban Issues      70 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

Dec. 5 marked the death of the Riverside Trolley past Five Points. Although we worked for several years with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, pitching ways to increase transportation options in the Riverside Avondale Historic District area, there seems to be no lasting effect from our efforts, despite a small group successfully securing short-lived expansion and promotion of the trolley service. We encouraged a light rail option and even introduced a techie to them who could implement a real-time transit application for free, but to no avail. While I do not abdicate JTA’s responsibility for the failure of the trolley, I believe the real problem was that no one rode the damn thing. The JTA gave us a test, a trial run, to see if we could increase ridership, and we failed – our community just didn’t support it. No matter how sexy we try to make it, people in Jacksonville love their cars a little too much to inconvenience themselves with public transit.  

I loved my Mini Cooper convertible too. I loved it so much that I just couldn’t part with those keys, walk two blocks to the Riverside Trolley stop, and take a leisurely ride when I had meetings downtown. It took me physically selling my car to make me stop such madness and live life in a new way, to experience my community the way it was designed – as a historic, walkable, bikable neighborhood – a new urbanist’s dream.  

Riverside Avondale has been my home for over 15 years and I have been the executive director of RAP for almost four of those. I am lucky to live in a "Top Ten Great American Neighborhood" and work for an organization that allows me to make a difference in the quality of life of those I love.  On Aug. 8, 2011, I started a personal challenge to go car-free for one year, an experiment to see if living in the historic urban core neighborhoods without a car is a viable alternative for a professional working person and mother of two. Four months later I can say that it is not only possible, but also a life-changer in a lot of positive ways.  





There are no rules. I walk, bike, hitch, and use public transportation. Sometimes, when I am really desperate, I ask my mother if I can borrow her minivan – and boy, that sure makes me feel 16 again. The initial summer months were awful but I powered through them, so when the weather cooled off, it was easy street. At the same time I started to recognize the health benefits – more positivity, more strength, and more energy. Going car-free has made me slow down and enjoy the positive force and beauty of the place I call home – the magnificent tree canopy, the expansive green spaces, and the beauty of the River Walk.  

While I never really considered the financial aspect much, the elimination of a car payment, gas, maintenance, etc., helps me to accumulate over $700 in my bank account each month. And while my Mini Cooper had great gas mileage, the realization that I was reducing my environmental impact was a major factor in my decision as well.  

The downside to my experiment is how much planning it takes. Spacing out work meetings if one is downtown and another in Riverside is the easy part, as long as I leave enough time to bike it or ride transit (about the same time actually). Juggling the kids’ schedules is a little more challenging. We walk to school, walk to music lessons, ride bikes to Boone Park for tennis, and hitch rides to the Good Sheppard pool. Yet, I have it easier than most. I have family and friends who help me.  And Riverside Avondale is a neighborhood with parks and vibrant commercial corridors close by, with a major hospital and grocery store - really all the necessary (as well as most nonessential) services one could want. With the sprawling way that Florida was developed, it is a luxury to live in such an area. Unfortunately, very few people take full advantage of this reality and continue to exclusively drive. As commercial corridors intensify, the dependability on cars breeds a negative impact on the adjacent residential quality of life, as cars and activity are pushed further onto residential streets. Residents surrounding our historic commercial corridors have asked RAP to help them protect their properties and quality of life as nearby businesses expand. Responsible growth creates a balance between this mixture of uses we all enjoy.  





No one can expect that people are going to give up their cars as I have. So what is the solution? Buy-in, collaboration, and participation by everyone involved.

While I am not a planner or traffic engineer, I believe we can start by encouraging the adaptive reuse of historic structures, and promoting small-scale development that limits commercial intensity, especially when near residential areas.  The Overlay does this; It also requires that if a business wants to develop new construction that intensifies or is out of scale with the surrounding area, then it has to either scale it back or figure out a solution. We can't give them a pass from the requirements - it forces residents to bear the negative results and rely upon the City or the JTA to fix the problem. Growth has to be responsible and considerate of both businesses and residents.  

Businesses can help by engaging the JTA directly to explain the needs of the community. They can offer collaborative partnerships and provide incentives to people who take transit, walk or bike. They can install bike racks (that are actually stabilized to the ground) and encourage employees to park in nearby lots and walk, or commute.  They can partner with other businesses to hire transportation services to and from area parking lots. Shared parking agreements can be useful, but only if all the spaces aren’t already utilized at specific times, and if they are legally binding agreements between businesses.

The City should challenge the JTA to address transit in a new, inventive way that will increase discretionary ridership. Partner with businesses to re-expand trolley services to Riverside Avondale, San Marco and Springfield, connecting the historic residential communities immediately surrounding downtown to the core. Marketing sponsorships on the JTA website and on the interior of busses, printed schedules, etc., could help subsidize the trolley until people actually start utilizing it in a meaningful way.  

Market transportation better and make it easier to understand and utilize. Provide a discounted pass for those who use only one leg of the service. Buses/Trolleys need to run after 8pm on the weekends, but first they need to run at higher intervals in general (45 minutes to 90 minutes is just too long). Reliability and predictability are essential if ridership is to increase beyond those who have no other option.





The City can offer incentives to people who use transit or to one-car families. Provide more bike lanes (like the new sharrow for Riverside Avenue coming in January) and walking paths within the built environments around the urban core. Protect residents by creating a residential parking decal program on streets that parallel commercial corridors.  The City Planning Department should be instructed to enforce the zoning code and various neighborhood overlays as these are the vision plans for the neighborhoods that support responsible growth, if simply enforced.  

Bottom line: there is no easy fix. Everyone has to participate and buy into the process. Most importantly, residents need to walk the talk and leave their cars at home. If that doesn’t happen, then no amount of time, talk or investment in transportation matters. The citizens of Jacksonville will prove whether transit is important to them or not.

In the meantime, my car-free journey continues and I encourage some of you to drink the punch. It is easy to reel off all the reasons why one needs a car, but as a full-time professional, mother of two, as well as being involved in statewide organizations, I can tell you that many of those reasons are just excuses. Rearranging (simplifying) your life and planning out your schedule is all it takes, and doing those things will actually increase your quality of life in the end.  





To read up on her experiences more visit http://Enginesoff.wordpress.com

Editorial by Carmen Godwin.







70 Comments

Noone

December 15, 2011, 05:16:42 AM
Nice article. I've got concerns as it relates to the zones in the Waterways. Carmen, would you like to go kayaking and tell me when we get out on land what zone are we in? or keep paddling till we find our own zone. Especially Downtown. I'm serious.

dougskiles

December 15, 2011, 06:29:48 AM
Great article.  I'm anxious to read more about your experiences of car-free living.

simms3

December 15, 2011, 06:45:00 AM
Quote
While I am not a planner or traffic engineer, I believe we can start by encouraging the adaptive reuse of historic structures, and promoting small-scale development that limits commercial intensity, especially when near residential areas.  The Overlay does this; It also requires that if a business wants to develop new construction that intensifies or is out of scale with the surrounding area, then it has to either scale it back or figure out a solution. We can't give them a pass from the requirements - it forces residents to bear the negative results and rely upon the City or the JTA to fix the problem. Growth has to be responsible and considerate of both businesses and residents.

I like the article, but I believe increasing intensity along commercial corridors is the way to go.  Not sure if this was a shot at the Kickbacks expansion.

Jumpinjack

December 15, 2011, 07:39:39 AM
Carmen, you have inspired me to try more car free existence. Your kids must be proud to have a mom who "walks the talk" or "pedals the principle."  Plus, once they get over the shock of the change it's more fun for them. 

We cut back to one car for our family and that hasn't been hard. Now, planning on taking the bus and trolley more to downtown for shopping and dinner.  Carmen, you rock.

NoCarMan

December 15, 2011, 07:59:02 AM
Jumpinjack -- thanks for the encouragement. It is really inspiring to know that your family has gone to one car too. It isn't as painful as most would think.

Noone

December 15, 2011, 08:05:34 AM
Carmen, I've got a bike. Just think about a kayak paddle and when we get out on land we can ride somewhere. Remember doing this with Howard Soloman.

Timkin

December 15, 2011, 08:34:29 AM
Great article and a great lady!!  :)

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 09:59:18 AM
Quote
While I am not a planner or traffic engineer, I believe we can start by encouraging the adaptive reuse of historic structures, and promoting small-scale development that limits commercial intensity, especially when near residential areas.  The Overlay does this; It also requires that if a business wants to develop new construction that intensifies or is out of scale with the surrounding area, then it has to either scale it back or figure out a solution. We can't give them a pass from the requirements - it forces residents to bear the negative results and rely upon the City or the JTA to fix the problem. Growth has to be responsible and considerate of both businesses and residents.

I like the article, but I believe increasing intensity along commercial corridors is the way to go.  Not sure if this was a shot at the Kickbacks expansion.

Looking at the overlay, the scenes below can definitely develop along Riverside's commercial corridors and they certainly fall within the scale of the some of the neighborhood's commercial districts.  All of these places are significantly denser as well.  Just something to keep in mind as the parking situation continues to be a heated issue in the community.

N Clark St - Chicago


Orange Ave - Coronado, CA


Melrose Ave - Los Angeles





Hollywood Boulevard - Hollywood, FL



Shadyside - Pittsburgh



Highlands - Louisville






Just wait to that bank site, the Panda House parcel, etc. end up being redeveloped along King Street.  Those sites have 45' high mixed-use structures written all over them.  Accommodating the overlay parking requirements will help drive the increase in their height.  With that said, there will be increased density and intensity along the commercial corridors as the neighborhood becomes more popular.

fieldafm

December 15, 2011, 10:09:26 AM



Is that Lincoln Park or Lakeview?

I always think King Street could compare favorably with Lakeview's commercial corridor, or probably more apt Williamsburg(especially with the light industrial area to the North-just like where Brooklyn Brewery is now).

Quote
Just wait to that bank site

I have to believe, at some point Centra will find someone who is willing to develop that empty space and subdivide that parcel

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 10:15:19 AM
^That's Lakeview.  I snapped that pic at the intersection of Clark & Diversey.

fieldafm

December 15, 2011, 10:21:14 AM
To keep the thread on track

I have been riding my bike two-three times a week for quite awhile... but since Carmen has started this endeavour, I have been starting to ride more often-especially in the evening hours.  I actually just bought a new bike that is more accomodating to daily use.

It's made me realize though, how difficult it is to ride a bike without dedicated lanes and a driving population that is EXTREMELY hostile towards cyclists.  At the Monday Night game a few weeks ago, actually had a guy almost run into me(b/c he didn't look before he turned, as I clearly had right of way and he had a stop sign to inconveniently adhere to) and then start yelling at me for being a menance to society.  Also had an old man yell at me for being a hoodlum terrorizing motorists on Grand Ave while riding to my dad's house.  Notwithstanding the fact that I was riding as close to the shoulder as is humanly possible and have the right to use the thoroughfare, nor that I hardly look like a hoodlum coming to rob the vulnerable residents of Ortega.

fieldafm

December 15, 2011, 10:24:57 AM
^That's Lakeview.  I snapped that pic at the intersection of Clark & Diversey.

Cool pic, especially since you captured those nice bike lanes they have everywhere in those urban neighborhoods through Chicago.  I have some pictures of parking meters in Lakeview and Wicker Park that have been replaced with bike storage facilities.

Further still, here is a nice idea from the surronding DC area:



thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 10:27:44 AM
To keep the thread on track

I have been riding my bike two-three times a week for quite awhile... but since Carmen has started this endeavour, I have been starting to ride more often-especially in the evening hours.  I actually just bought a new bike that is more accomodating to daily use.

It's made me realize though, how difficult it is to ride a bike without dedicated lanes and a driving population that is EXTREMELY hostile towards cyclists.  At the Monday Night game a few weeks ago, actually had a guy almost run into me(b/c he didn't look before he turned, as I clearly had right of way and he had a stop sign to inconveniently adhere to) and then start yelling at me for being a menance to society.  Also had an old man yell at me for being a hoodlum terrorizing motorists on Grand Ave while riding to my dad's house.  Notwithstanding the fact that I was riding as close to the shoulder as is humanly possible and have the right to use the thoroughfare, nor that I hardly look like a hoodlum coming to rob the vulnerable residents of Ortega.

^This is why it will be important for the city to implement context sensitive streets and complete streets policies for future roadway design.  They should also be implemented with routine roadway resurfacing and reconstruction projects.  Working downtown, you realize the lack of respect drivers have for pedestrians as well.  On several occasions, I've held people back from being mowed over by drivers making right turns while pedestrians are crossing the street.  I've had to explain to people that this is Jacksonville, just because the walk now light is on, its still a bad ideal to assume the drivers are going to allow you to cross.

fieldafm

December 15, 2011, 10:37:11 AM
Quote
The JTA gave us a test, a trial run, to see if we could increase ridership, and we failed – our community just didn’t support it.

Would like to add to this... unfortunately JTA did not give this trial a fair playing field that would be useful in attracting choice riders.  The reasons have been discussed ad nauseum here, but I refuse to go so far as to say that the community WOULD not support the trolley... if the trolley was a halfway VIABLE alternative.

I could walk to destinations (3-4 miles) quicker than taking the trolley off-peak hours and Saturdays. 

And it is no small coincidence that 3 of the 5 highest ridership days the route ever had was connected to EVENING hour Art Walk events. 

I think the efforts did in fact work in limited capacities, but those limited successes further proved the need to make the service more convenient to choice riders in order to grow the route... instead of vice versa.  Furthermore, the success of MetroJax's Pub Crawls further prove this point.

I refuse to give up advancing the conversation b/c of the death of the Riverside Trolley.  IMO, it's death adds fuel to the fire.

CityLife

December 15, 2011, 10:39:35 AM
Fantastic piece.

Hopefully RAP can harness its political capital and get the city/JTA to consider some transit options for R/A and the Urban Core. With all of the businesses in R/A, San Marco, DT, and Riverside Avenue its the perfect opportunity to see a "public-private partnership" at work.

And much respect to Carmen for going car free.

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 10:48:51 AM
Here are a few images of bikeway infrastructure I've come across in other cities:

Washington, DC - Residential streets have been converted to one way corridors to accommodate additional on-street parking and safer bicycle routes (routes typically parallel commercial corridors with heavy automobile traffic).


St. Petersburg, FL - Roadway lanes have been removed along this corridor to provide stronger connectivity between downtown and the Pinellas Trail (rails to trails corridor).  I'd like to see something like this happen in our downtown.  After all, it's not like we have a rush hour.



Deland, FL - Squeezing in an 8' wide bikeway along the ROW of an inner city residential street.



Long Beach, CA - Separated bicycle lanes, traffic signals for bikes to cross busy arterial roadways, and a bike station at their intermodal center.







Tampa - Reducing roadway lane widths to create space for bicycles.





Detroit - a multiuse path for bikes and pedestrians while leaving ROW for future LRT/Streetcar.




stephendare

December 15, 2011, 10:50:48 AM
Carmen!

This is such an awesome essay!  Congratulations for making the carless jump.  Its quite an adjustment here in Jacksonville.

It will definitely put your perspective of JTA into a proper context.

I decided to go carless a couple of years ago, and it makes you realize how stupendously underserved this city is by our transit authority.

btw.  thanks for the offer to ride on your handlebars yesterday!

Bativac

December 15, 2011, 11:00:18 AM
To keep the thread on track

I have been riding my bike two-three times a week for quite awhile... but since Carmen has started this endeavour, I have been starting to ride more often-especially in the evening hours.  I actually just bought a new bike that is more accomodating to daily use.

It's made me realize though, how difficult it is to ride a bike without dedicated lanes and a driving population that is EXTREMELY hostile towards cyclists.  At the Monday Night game a few weeks ago, actually had a guy almost run into me(b/c he didn't look before he turned, as I clearly had right of way and he had a stop sign to inconveniently adhere to) and then start yelling at me for being a menance to society.  Also had an old man yell at me for being a hoodlum terrorizing motorists on Grand Ave while riding to my dad's house.  Notwithstanding the fact that I was riding as close to the shoulder as is humanly possible and have the right to use the thoroughfare, nor that I hardly look like a hoodlum coming to rob the vulnerable residents of Ortega.

^This is why it will be important for the city to implement context sensitive streets and complete streets policies for future roadway design.  They should also be implemented with routine roadway resurfacing and reconstruction projects.  Working downtown, you realize the lack of respect drivers have for pedestrians as well.  On several occasions, I've held people back from being mowed over by drivers making right turns while pedestrians are crossing the street.  I've had to explain to people that this is Jacksonville, just because the walk now light is on, its still a bad ideal to assume the drivers are going to allow you to cross.

This is a huge problem in Jax - most people are openly hostile to pedestrians and bicyclists. I've ridden in parts of town that have "bike lanes" and decided it's just safer on the sidewalk (or in my wife's truck with the bikes in the back). I've never lived or ridden my bike anyplace else where people in cars would actually throw stuff at you, speed up to try to intimidate you, yell at you from their windows, etc.

Just one of those things that makes Jacksonville "unique" I guess.

fieldafm

December 15, 2011, 11:13:10 AM


There are some bicycle/pedestrian projects in the Mobility Plan, and I am really getting on board with your context sensitive streets push... that, plus the land use modifications to match up with Mobility all really go hand in hand with each other.

What really strikes me about the Dequindre Cut is that this can be easily replicated in Jacksonville. By connecting the S Line rail-to-trail with the Hogans Creek Greenway, which can be extended further down as a low impact multi-use trail on city owned land South of the Matthews Bridge connector along the creek basin that could eventually be tied into the Riverwalk(whic then connects to the wide sidewalks along Main Street Bridge and then along the bike lanes on Hendricks) and a restriping of Monroe to create a bike lane connecting this path to the Core of the city(along what could be the two main pedestrian-centric arteries of downtown-Monroe and Laura).  You could connect Durkeeville, Springfield, Downtown, San Marco and Riverside together in an actual network dedicated for pedestrians and cyclists.  Any day of the week, you can see people running and biking along these areas... but they are still isolated from each other.  Why not connect the dots?

Although some(without doing the research) would say that this vision would be a large capital improvement project.. it really isn't.  Funding is there for a lot of it, existing infrastructure is there for other parts of it and the rest can come from restriping(there is work slated to be done near Confederate on state roadways) and private sources. 

When you just simply look at a map, and do some digging in the capital improvement budget... it isn't hard to see how this can happen.

Abhishek

December 15, 2011, 11:18:20 AM
Here are a few images of bikeway infrastructure I've come across in other cities:

Washington, DC - Residential streets have been converted to one way corridors to accommodate additional on-street parking and safer bicycle routes (routes typically parallel commercial corridors with heavy automobile traffic).


Bicycling facilities such as these are actually quite dangerous. The bike lane is inside the 'door zone'...so when a motorist opens the door from within, the bicyclist stands to collide with it. We have this problem along Hendricks in San Marco (across Jack Rabbits).

I have tried living car free for about a year (2008 - 2009) and had to find more 'normal' (internal combustion propelled) methods of transportation to keep my sanity. I was living in Southside back then. There is a long way to go before the motorists will change their outlook towards cyclists. In my experience, the ones that are particularly abusive are a minority but enough in numbers to dissuade anyone.

To promote alternate means of transportation, Jacksonville needs a change in its culture and outlook towards transportation. This does not happen overnight and requires careful, intelligent and long term planning.

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 11:24:33 AM
What really strikes me about the Dequindre Cut is that this can be easily replicated in Jacksonville.

Yes, the Dequindre Cut example is what should be done with the S-Line all the way up to Gateway Mall.


City owned S-Line ROW in New Town.

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 11:33:31 AM
Bicycling facilities such as these are actually quite dangerous. The bike lane is inside the 'door zone'...so when a motorist opens the door from within, the bicyclist stands to collide with it. We have this problem along Hendricks in San Marco (across Jack Rabbits).

I believe the Hendricks bike lanes are 4' wide.  The optimal preferred width for a bike lane is 6'.  In many areas, in our urban core, it is possible to add bike lanes while also setting aside space for 'door zones'.   Door zones were not accounted for with Hendricks because there was no policy in place to design that facility in a context sensitive manner where bike and pedestrian modes are treated equally to the automobile/truck mode.  If that were the case, that strip would not have a suicide (continuous center turn) lane.  Instead that additional 12' would be given to improving the design conditions/widths of the bike/ped modes.   

Tacachale

December 15, 2011, 12:19:08 PM
Quote
The JTA gave us a test, a trial run, to see if we could increase ridership, and we failed – our community just didn’t support it.

Would like to add to this... unfortunately JTA did not give this trial a fair playing field that would be useful in attracting choice riders.  The reasons have been discussed ad nauseum here, but I refuse to go so far as to say that the community WOULD not support the trolley... if the trolley was a halfway VIABLE alternative.

I could walk to destinations (3-4 miles) quicker than taking the trolley off-peak hours and Saturdays. 

And it is no small coincidence that 3 of the 5 highest ridership days the route ever had was connected to EVENING hour Art Walk events. 

I think the efforts did in fact work in limited capacities, but those limited successes further proved the need to make the service more convenient to choice riders in order to grow the route... instead of vice versa.  Furthermore, the success of MetroJax's Pub Crawls further prove this point.

I refuse to give up advancing the conversation b/c of the death of the Riverside Trolley.  IMO, it's death adds fuel to the fire.
For whatever reason people would rather focus on instances where things didn't work out and then just abandon projects entirely, rather than studying instances where it worked and finding ways to emulate the success. They'd rather not even look at elements of the current system that work reasonably well; it either works perfectly the first time or it's scrapped.

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 12:31:20 PM
^I still say the key to mass transit in Riverside is not to treat the community as an isolated place when it comes to planning.  We've been doing that in downtown for decades and we see how well that has worked out.  Yes, the neighborhood has 15,000 residents or so, but what about if by streamlining existing transit operations, we could increase the market served to over 100,000 residents? 

This can be done by treating Riverside as one of many destinations along a transit spine stretching into downtown.  Where ever it ends, funnel all Westside bus routes into it, instead of having them all go into downtown.  This will do a few things simultaneously:

1. Relieve Riverside's growing parking congestion situation.

2. Reduce the frequency of bus routes on an entire side of town.

3. Streamlining bus operations creates addition funds for annual maintenance of this transit spine.

4. Transit spine creates economic infill development opportunities in Five Points, Brooklyn, LaVilla, and Downtown.  This will relieve the pressure of large scale infill development targeting limited commercial sites in Riverside, since the area would still be served by development in Brooklyn and the Five Points urban transition zone.

5. Transit line feeds riders into the skyway, which would serve as an integrated downtown circulator.

6. Transit capital costs are shared by a larger segment of the community, allowing a place like Riverside to focus on

Dashing Dan

December 15, 2011, 12:45:35 PM
Carmen needs to start wearing a helmet.

kwalker

December 15, 2011, 03:20:49 PM
Carmen, what a great article.  You are an inspiration to everyone in your community.  Congrats on becoming a role model that people can look up to....I knew back in junior high that one day you would do big things. 

JeffreyS

December 15, 2011, 03:59:53 PM
Carmen I wouldn't accept JTA's faux trolley as a test of good transit at it's very best it is a gimmick. I don't mind gimmicks they can be fun but should not be taken seriously in any relation to fixed transit. Perhaps as a test for expanded bus service they may have some use.

NoCarMan

December 15, 2011, 07:01:30 PM
Thanks for all of the support!

Yes, I should wear a helmet. The streets are not safe for cyclists. In fact, I often cringe as cars ride by at night just hoping the driver isn't texting or searching for Back in Black on their ipod. Jacksonville needs to do a better job in making the streets safer and with our transit system. More people need to get involved and become active in the process in order to make those things a reality.

I do want to say that although we have pushed hard for JTA to get creative with increasing discretionary ridership, and I have been critical at times about the lack of commitment there, their focus should be on making transit reliable and timely for those who rely upon it. Discretionary ridership should be secondary and so I sometimes feel guilty for trying to pull resources away from those who truly need better service.

As for the transit spine, what is the likelihood that that will happen given the current politics and organizations involved. What would it take to make it a reality?

movedsouth

December 15, 2011, 07:13:13 PM
Great article! Living in Springfield I can relate to the convenience to using a bike to go downtown. The big problem for car free living in  Jacksonville is that it is missing the density. Even areas like Riverside and Springfield have a density that may be considered suburban in other areas.

I am personally not a big fan of bike lanes. But I can see where they work. The problem I have with bike lanes are twofold: First of all they tend to slow down the "commuter biker". Secondly, they remove the bicyclist from the view of the car traffic, leading to dangers at the intersection as the bike enters the car lane and is hard to see. Some of this can be mitigated by designing the lanes well (for example, just marking a lane on the right may work). The biggest safety issue around here is that there are not enough bike riders so cars don't look for them.

dougskiles

December 15, 2011, 07:16:19 PM
As for the transit spine, what is the likelihood that that will happen given the current politics and organizations involved. What would it take to make it a reality?

Perhaps this would be a good time for TransformJax to give us an update.  I understand that a streetcar is next on their radar.

north miami

December 15, 2011, 07:30:32 PM
Recently I listened in complete attention to an Orange Park resident describe,in complete mile by mile detail,multi mile Clay County US 17,220,Doctor Lake Route.In my friend's case,use primarily 'recreational/health' application yet profound.

yes Carmen- helmut,suit of armor,plates of righteousness,hedge of thorns,Dark Helmut,whatever, stay safe......we need you.

weather condition wise,we reside..........and ride.........in the very best region North America offers.

think I will take a lap through Boone's Park......

onward

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 07:45:58 PM
As for the transit spine, what is the likelihood that that will happen given the current politics and organizations involved. What would it take to make it a reality?

There's funding for it in the recently adopted mobility plan and the mayor has been saying "LRT" in his stomp speeches.  Although there is a mobility fee moratorium right now, I still don't see any reason why something can be up and running in five to ten years, which happened to be the original schedule.  To make things happen faster, the moratorium needs to sunset in 2012 and the mayor needs to be on board.  So basically, lots of lobbying for not extending the moratorium.

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 07:48:32 PM
As for the transit spine, what is the likelihood that that will happen given the current politics and organizations involved. What would it take to make it a reality?

Perhaps this would be a good time for TransformJax to give us an update.  I understand that a streetcar is next on their radar.

Transform Jax gave a presentation to Habijax on New Town, this past Tuesday.  Part of that presentation included taking advantage of the S-Line as a way to spur TOD, economic development and job creation in that community. Look for an update on that early next week.

Dashing Dan

December 15, 2011, 07:51:05 PM
I am personally not a big fan of bike lanes. But I can see where they work. The problem I have with bike lanes are twofold: First of all they tend to slow down the "commuter biker". Secondly, they remove the bicyclist from the view of the car traffic, leading to dangers at the intersection as the bike enters the car lane and is hard to see. Some of this can be mitigated by designing the lanes well (for example, just marking a lane on the right may work). The biggest safety issue around here is that there are not enough bike riders so cars don't look for them.
Sharrows are coming to Riverside, and that should solve the problems that you have with bike lanes.  Where bike lanes are impractical or infeasible, sharrows are meant to warn motorists that a bicycle may be directly ahead of them.

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 07:53:10 PM
Riverside is blessed to have a good grid street network, which helps disperse automobile traffic.  Sharrows will be a great addition to the neighborhood.

stephendare

December 15, 2011, 08:14:19 PM
Thanks for all of the support!

Yes, I should wear a helmet. The streets are not safe for cyclists. In fact, I often cringe as cars ride by at night just hoping the driver isn't texting or searching for Back in Black on their ipod. Jacksonville needs to do a better job in making the streets safer and with our transit system. More people need to get involved and become active in the process in order to make those things a reality.

I do want to say that although we have pushed hard for JTA to get creative with increasing discretionary ridership, and I have been critical at times about the lack of commitment there, their focus should be on making transit reliable and timely for those who rely upon it. Discretionary ridership should be secondary and so I sometimes feel guilty for trying to pull resources away from those who truly need better service.

As for the transit spine, what is the likelihood that that will happen given the current politics and organizations involved. What would it take to make it a reality?

An official joint resolution and demand from RAP and Metro?

Lets take the demand to the Mayor.

thelakelander

December 15, 2011, 08:17:02 PM
^More than that. Support for the moratorium ending should come from as many as possible. 

stephendare

December 15, 2011, 08:22:55 PM
^More than that. Support for the moratorium ending should come from as many as possible.

Bet the King's Street Merchants would also support for ending the Moratorium ;), but Moratorium or no, we can make the clear message to the Mayor known.

JeffreyS

December 15, 2011, 09:01:29 PM
^More than that. Support for the moratorium ending should come from as many as possible. 
+1

JeffreyS

December 15, 2011, 09:01:45 PM
^More than that. Support for the moratorium ending should come from as many as possible.

Bet the King's Street Merchants would also support for ending the Moratorium ;), but Moratorium or no, we can make the clear message to the Mayor known.
+2

tayana42

December 16, 2011, 12:52:33 AM
I believe that the more riders we have in the neighborhood, the more noticeable we'll be, and we will begin to earn respect from car drivers.  At the same time, riders need to ride single file when there is no bike lane; perhaps even then if traffic is heavy.
 

Dashing Dan

December 16, 2011, 06:32:13 AM
It may not seem intuitive but the key to bicycle safety is to "ride big."   

If there's no bike lane then a driver should have to change lanes to get around you.  The driver should be able to see you ahead of him (or her) in time to change lanes safely and smoothly.

So there are times when it's actually safer to ride double file rather than single file.

jaxlore

December 16, 2011, 02:11:30 PM
Did someone say they are expanding the Riverside Ave bike lane? As someone who rides from Riverside to San Marco several times a week, the most dangerous part of trip is down streets with street parking, I always wonder when someone is going to back out, open a door, etc. Once I hit Riverside ave I either go to the riverwalk and sidewalk it to san marco or over the acosta. 

I am not a big fan of the whole side by side rider thing most riverside streets, are to crowded and it makes me feel like a bigger target for drivers that dont pay attention to begin with.

NoCarMan

December 16, 2011, 02:30:00 PM
I don't think they are making any street improvements but merely painting a sharrow lane on Riverside Avenue, from south of the Fuller Warren Bridge to Post Street.

cline

December 16, 2011, 02:39:30 PM
^More than that. Support for the moratorium ending should come from as many as possible. 

I've lost hope that the administration and council will support the Mobility Plan.  Lobbyist groups (read: Builders Association) has too much influence.  The Plan is effectively dead.  Pretty sad actually.

I'm pretty stoked about the sharrows though.

Dashing Dan

December 16, 2011, 03:51:05 PM
Did someone say they are expanding the Riverside Ave bike lane? As someone who rides from Riverside to San Marco several times a week, the most dangerous part of trip is down streets with street parking, I always wonder when someone is going to back out, open a door, etc. Once I hit Riverside ave I either go to the riverwalk and sidewalk it to san marco or over the acosta. 

I am not a big fan of the whole side by side rider thing most riverside streets, are to crowded and it makes me feel like a bigger target for drivers that dont pay attention to begin with.
Use Oak Street.

mtraininjax

December 16, 2011, 03:57:30 PM
My wife and I ride around Avondale and we know the laws, yet it is amazing how many DOPES, and you know who you are, ride around at night without flashers in the front and back of their bikes. JSO could pay for Zone 4, by patrolling RAP and handing out 100 buck tickets for not having flashing lights in the front and back of bikes.

Don't be a moron, get your flashers and get legal. Don't get hit because you were too cheap to buy a 5 dollar set of white and red flashers.

Dashing Dan

December 16, 2011, 04:03:01 PM
+100

Adam W

December 17, 2011, 11:46:17 AM
I lived a life without a car in Jacksonville/Riverside in the mid-2000s and found it basically impossible. At one point, it was fine because I was working downtown and, if anything, it was more convenient to take the bus than to drive to work anyway. Leaving work at night, however, was a bit of a hassle due to bus schedules. I would walk home from the office and would get home before the bus would've gotten me there anyway. Perhaps a bicycle would've been wiser.

Once I started working on the Southside (at BoA), the bus just wasn't an option, unless I wanted to allow almost 2 hours for the commute (and include a dangerous walk at the end). I think Jax is in a bit of a bind - the bus routes are a bit crap and the frequency of service just isn't good enough. But can you really demand more routes with more frequent service with such low ridership?

I never felt that comfortable riding my bike in Jax, as there are few bike lanes and motorists just don't seem to understand how to treat cyclists. But I hear it's gotten better in the five or so years since I left, which is great news.

Dog Walker

December 17, 2011, 01:42:33 PM
My wife and I ride around Avondale and we know the laws, yet it is amazing how many DOPES, and you know who you are, ride around at night without flashers in the front and back of their bikes. JSO could pay for Zone 4, by patrolling RAP and handing out 100 buck tickets for not having flashing lights in the front and back of bikes.

Don't be a moron, get your flashers and get legal. Don't get hit because you were too cheap to buy a 5 dollar set of white and red flashers.

Those flashing LED lights have to be one of the greatest safety advances for bicycles in the last 100 years.  I wonder how many lives have been saved by them.  The old steady lights just weren't visible enough in our cities.

If you ride at night without the flashers, Darwin is going to get you.

hypnotoad

December 23, 2011, 12:24:00 AM
Why don't we get all our friends together, buy a used trolley, all contribute equally to break even on the payments/gas/maintenance and figure out what the route should be, let other people ride too per trip or a monthly/yearly pass.  Not-for-profit co-op transportation?  I don't know if that is feasible honestly -- just thinking out loud.

Dashing Dan

December 23, 2011, 08:01:45 AM
Or just rent a bus with a driver.  There are companies in town that could provide that service for that fee.  If a couple of bars chipped in, it could pay for itself.  Think of all of the potential riders who wouldn't have to worry about a DUI.

Ocklawaha

December 23, 2011, 10:33:31 AM
Why don't we get all our friends together, buy a used trolley, all contribute equally to break even on the payments/gas/maintenance and figure out what the route should be, let other people ride too per trip or a monthly/yearly pass.  Not-for-profit co-op transportation?  I don't know if that is feasible honestly -- just thinking out loud.

Sorry, but the only thing this would achieve is making all of the local bankrupcy attorneys happier then a tornado in a trailer park.

OCKLAWAHA

Timkin

December 23, 2011, 04:58:53 PM

[/quote]

Sorry, but the only thing this would achieve is making all of the local bankruptcy attorneys happier then a tornado in a trailer park.

OCKLAWAHA


[/quote]


 funny :)

hypnotoad

December 25, 2011, 01:33:10 AM
Dashing Dan, that is an interesting idea!  I love the idea of riding a trolley around Riverside/Avondale/San Marco/Downtown to restaurants and shops for starters.  Later service would be great and it would be fun for a night out with friends.  Not worrying about DUIs is definitely good all around.

I'm not really sure what the basis was for immediately dismissing what I said... because there was really zero information in the response so it almost seemed non-sequitur.  Since I'm new to the site I just hope this will be a courteous forum with people who are respectful and want to make the city a nicer place to live for everyone.  I hope I'm not expecting too much out of my fellow Jacksonvillians.  Great site.  Peace.

ChriswUfGator

December 25, 2011, 08:27:58 AM
Dashing Dan, that is an interesting idea!  I love the idea of riding a trolley around Riverside/Avondale/San Marco/Downtown to restaurants and shops for starters.  Later service would be great and it would be fun for a night out with friends.  Not worrying about DUIs is definitely good all around.

I'm not really sure what the basis was for immediately dismissing what I said... because there was really zero information in the response so it almost seemed non-sequitur.  Since I'm new to the site I just hope this will be a courteous forum with people who are respectful and want to make the city a nicer place to live for everyone.  I hope I'm not expecting too much out of my fellow Jacksonvillians.  Great site.  Peace.

Well when you plunge in sometimes you don't realize how deep the water is. Ock is a transportation engineer, he's been in that industry 30 years, and he designed/laid out much of the proposed riverside trolley system. He was giving you his opinion of the idea of a not-for-profit local bus service in Riverside. It's a qualified opinion. Of course you're free to disagree with it.

Timkin

December 25, 2011, 01:07:19 PM
Dashing Dan, that is an interesting idea!  I love the idea of riding a trolley around Riverside/Avondale/San Marco/Downtown to restaurants and shops for starters.  Later service would be great and it would be fun for a night out with friends.  Not worrying about DUIs is definitely good all around.

I'm not really sure what the basis was for immediately dismissing what I said... because there was really zero information in the response so it almost seemed non-sequitur.  Since I'm new to the site I just hope this will be a courteous forum with people who are respectful and want to make the city a nicer place to live for everyone.  I hope I'm not expecting too much out of my fellow Jacksonvillians.  Great site.  Peace.

I do not think anyone was "bashing" your idea.  So not to worry,  please do come back .

Ocklawaha

December 26, 2011, 11:22:31 AM
Dashing Dan, that is an interesting idea!  I love the idea of riding a trolley around Riverside/Avondale/San Marco/Downtown to restaurants and shops for starters.  Later service would be great and it would be fun for a night out with friends.  Not worrying about DUIs is definitely good all around.

I'm not really sure what the basis was for immediately dismissing what I said... because there was really zero information in the response so it almost seemed non-sequitur.  Since I'm new to the site I just hope this will be a courteous forum with people who are respectful and want to make the city a nicer place to live for everyone.  I hope I'm not expecting too much out of my fellow Jacksonvillians.  Great site.  Peace.

Please excuse my sarcasm, it's my spiritual gift... LOL!

Here is the breakdown:

Purchase one used potato-chip-truck-thinks-its-a-trolley bus, anything in the 2000's is going to set you back about $50,000 - $75,000 dollars. Because almost all mass transit highway vehicles run on a 12 year/500,000 mile federal transportation guideling. So 'our' new bus will probably end up being more like $100,000 dollars to make it truly usable. Buy at least 2 of these to make sure your covered in the VERY LIKELY event a vehicle dies.

A qualified bus driver is going to cost $31,000 minimum annually, and you'll need 2 or 3 to protect the scheduled operation IF it only ran 8 hours a day. Add another shift and you'll need another 2 or 3 drivers. Bottom line, at a bare bones and bottom line, it's going to be another $100,000 annually. Mechanics add another $35,000 to 40,000 annually. Any way you look at it, its going to be a $200,000 dollar a year operation, and we still haven't paid insurance, fuel (at about 8 mpg) or rental space for a bus lot.

You now into this for something like a quarter to a half million dollars. You'll recover this at $1.00 a pop and a average load of what? 5-15 passengers!

You be lucky to cover even the fuel cost.

Sad but that is the way it is and THAT is why the private transit industry died off from about 1950-70.

OCKLAWAHA

thelakelander

December 26, 2011, 01:56:39 PM
Great breakdown. You really can't make money running a transportation system (roads or mass transit) without the land development connection.

hypnotoad

December 27, 2011, 01:21:22 PM
Ocklawaha thank you for your response!  :) It makes good sense.  Oh well, back to the drawing board! lol

deathstar

February 20, 2012, 03:04:43 AM
No negative outbursts or aggression from any motorists after having used the strip of road on Riverside Avenue with the sharrows... "yet". I'm shocked at how big of an issue this is for so many citizens and how there's no common ground on the matter. I saw the report Channel 4 did with Tarik Minor, where he intereviewed 2 young motorists, and not 1 individual bicyclist, like Carmen Godwin for one. How CAN we, or rather, will we ever be able to, educate people on the matter? I hope it doesn't come down to something as drastic as an accident or with an intent to cause bodily harm like that mess on Roosevelt by FSCJ a few years ago, again.

mtraininjax

February 20, 2012, 11:28:44 AM
Quote
Please excuse my sarcasm, it's my spiritual gift... LOL!

The wit is under appreciated often times on the board, but glad to have it!  :)

Dashing Dan

February 20, 2012, 01:29:50 PM
No negative outbursts or aggression from any motorists after having used the strip of road on Riverside Avenue with the sharrows... "yet". I'm shocked at how big of an issue this is for so many citizens and how there's no common ground on the matter. I saw the report Channel 4 did with Tarik Minor, where he intereviewed 2 young motorists, and not 1 individual bicyclist, like Carmen Godwin for one. How CAN we, or rather, will we ever be able to, educate people on the matter? I hope it doesn't come down to something as drastic as an accident or with an intent to cause bodily harm like that mess on Roosevelt by FSCJ a few years ago, again.
I'd like to start a new thread on this website that would be specifically about sharrows.  We need more sharrows in this city, and we need motorists as well as bicyclists to know how they work. 

In the meantime here's a link to the website for the Jacksonville Bicycle Coalition:

http://jaxbikecoalition.org/

cline

February 20, 2012, 03:37:52 PM
No negative outbursts or aggression from any motorists after having used the strip of road on Riverside Avenue with the sharrows... "yet". I'm shocked at how big of an issue this is for so many citizens and how there's no common ground on the matter. I saw the report Channel 4 did with Tarik Minor, where he intereviewed 2 young motorists, and not 1 individual bicyclist, like Carmen Godwin for one. How CAN we, or rather, will we ever be able to, educate people on the matter? I hope it doesn't come down to something as drastic as an accident or with an intent to cause bodily harm like that mess on Roosevelt by FSCJ a few years ago, again.
I'd like to start a new thread on this website that would be specifically about sharrows.  We need more sharrows in this city, and we need motorists as well as bicyclists to know how they work. 

In the meantime here's a link to the website for the Jacksonville Bicycle Coalition:

http://jaxbikecoalition.org/

As someone who bikes on that section of Riverside Ave I am glad for the sharrows.  It can be a little sketchy biking that stretch with the traffic.  Hopefully the sharrows will get motorists to be a little more alert to bicyclists....hopefully.

Dashing Dan

February 20, 2012, 05:20:23 PM
My pre-sharrow route was to take the Northbank Riverwalk to Fuller Warren, then over to Riverside beneath the Fuller Warren overpass, down the sidewalk to the crosswalk at Riverside Park Drive (Fisk St), across Riverside at the cross walk, and then on to Oak Street via May Street and Post Street. 

I’m willing to put myself out there in the new sharrow lanes for the sake of educating the motorists who use Riverside Ave, but I think I would still feel safer on my old pre-sharrow route.

deathstar

February 21, 2012, 01:07:38 AM
@Dashing Dan Please start a topic, it will be interesting to see what everyone thinks about the idea of sharrows.

@cline I used it again this morning with a friend, we both biked from Memorial Park all the way down Riverside Avenue to the Riverwalk. On our way back, we took the Acosta to Water Street then to Riverside Avenue overpass, then kept on until we got to Post and then took Herschel back home. Motorists actually kept a steady speed along side us as we tried to match their speed without trying to slow them down.

Dashing Dan

February 23, 2012, 03:43:39 AM
@Dashing Dan Please start a topic, it will be interesting to see what everyone thinks about the idea of sharrows.

@cline I used it again this morning with a friend, we both biked from Memorial Park all the way down Riverside Avenue to the Riverwalk. On our way back, we took the Acosta to Water Street then to Riverside Avenue overpass, then kept on until we got to Post and then took Herschel back home. Motorists actually kept a steady speed along side us as we tried to match their speed without trying to slow them down.
done
See "Sharrows Can Make Jacksonville Safer for Cyclilsts"

jaxlore

February 23, 2012, 03:42:50 PM
dan I take a similar route, but its been a few months since ive got my lazy butt on the bike to work. will have to give the sharrow route a try if people are respectful of it. although i have to admit i would jump on the sidewalk on that strip from post the river walk.

mtraininjax

May 31, 2012, 08:49:29 PM
Carmen, saw you on your bike today, nice shades!

kln1323

July 03, 2012, 06:56:51 AM
https://www.facebook.com/#!/SupportTheShroom
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