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Bicycle-less BRT Streetscape Coming to Downtown?

On Monday, March 15th, 2010, US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced a new "complete streets" policy that would put planning for bicycling and pedestrians on equal footing with highways and transit. In his blog, Secretary LaHood states that "this is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized." Unfortunately, that message hasn't resonated in Jacksonville. In February 2013, two major downtown streets will be reconstructed for bus rapid transit and bicycle facilities will not be included.

Published June 28, 2012 in Transit      71 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

About the BRT Downtown Transit Enhancement Project (click on images to enlarge)


Map of the Downtown Transit Enhancement Project

The Downtown Transit Enhancement Project is the first phase of a city-wide BRT system long advocated by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.  The project is intended to utilize existing streets through the downtown Jacksonville area, connecting the Northbank and Southbank.  The south terminus is Kings Avenue at Manning Street near the Kings Avenue garage.  The west termini is the proposed location of the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC), which is currently the Skyway's Convention Center station between West Bay and Forsyth Streets.  The proposed BRT project will utilize Broad and Jefferson Streets between the Acosta Bridge and Union Street.  


The Downtown Transit Enhancement will include a modern bus stop at the entrance of the new Duval County Courthouse.

As a part of the project, Jefferson and Broad Streets will be reconstructed.  Unfortunately, this reconstruction will not include a critical multimodal element that supports BRT usage: Bike Lanes.


Current and proposed Jefferson Street cross sections.  Bicycle lanes are being omitted in favor or two regular travel lanes and an exclusive bus lane.  Sidewalks adjacent to the bus only lane will vary from a minimum of 8.5' to 14' in width.  The minimum width for a bicycle lane is 4'.  Accommodating a 4' bicycle lane would reduce minimum sidewalk widths to 5' to 6' in certain areas.  Currently existing sidewalks are 5' in width.


Current and proposed Broad Street cross sections.  Bicycle lanes are being omitted in favor or two regular travel lanes and an exclusive bus lane.  Sidewalks adjacent to the bus only lane will vary from a minimum of 8.5' to 13' in width.  The minimum width for a bicycle lane is 4'.  Accommodating a 4' bicycle lane would reduce minimum sidewalk widths to 5' to 6' in certain areas.  Currently existing sidewalks are 6' in width.


Typical proposed bus station configuration



An aerial rendering of proposed shared bus and bicycle lanes on Riverplace Boulevard.


On the Southbank, Riverplace Boulevard will be reconstructed to include shared bus and bicycle lanes.  This segment will connect with Hendricks Avenue, a roadway with existing bicycle lanes.  Hendricks connects bicyclist with San Jose Boulevard, a popular bicycle route stretching into the Southside.  If bicycle facilities aren't included on Broad and Jefferson Streets, bicyclists will be forced into dangerous conditions once they are dumped off the Acosta Bridge into where the bridge, Bay and Riverside Avenue converge.


The Importance of Bicycle Facilities

Bicycle travel is an important component of a multimodal street.  It is desirable to provide bicycle facilities such as bicycle lanes on major thoroughfares with target speeds of 30 mph or more and on streets with high traffic volumes and speeds less than 30 mph. If adequate facilities for this mode of transportation cannot be provided, then the safety of both the bicyclist and automobile driver is compromised.  In addition, bicycle travel on sidewalks should be discouraged, even if the sidewalk width meets the width requirements of a shared multi-use path.  Bicycles on sidewalks travel at higher speeds than pedestrians, creating the potential for serious injury.  Bicyclists might collide with obstacles on sidewalks including street furniture and sign posts.  Additionally, drivers do not expect bicyclist on sidewalks, creating conflicts at intersections and driveways.

Jacksonville routinely ranks amongst the worst cities for pedestrian and biking safety in America.  According to a 2010 report by Bicycling magazine, the city suffers from too much suburban sprawl, to little bike lanes, and not enough efforts to improve cycling conditions within its boundaries.

In an effort to enhance urban livability, safety of residents, and to encourage use of alternative forms of transportation, the concept of integrating a connected city-wide bicycle network became a high priority in the 2030 Mobility Plan.  Broad and Jefferson Streets were two downtown streets identified in the plan as ideal corridors for filling in gaps within Jacksonville's bicycle network.  They were primarily identified because of the opportunity BRT presented in establishing transit friendly corridors through the urban core and the presence of existing bike facilites on the Southbank, which feed into Broad & Jefferson.


This 2030 Mobility Plan Bicycle Mode project map illustrates the importance of Broad and Jefferson Streets in creating a connected bicycle network within the City of Jacksonville.  Eliminating this Acosta Bridge-fed corridor limits virtually eliminates the possibility of having a connected city-wide bicycle network.

The pending reconstruction of these 60' wide roadways to accommodate BRT and improved sidewalks seemed like an ideal method to connect existing bike infrastructure on the Southbank and through San Marco with Springfield, Shands, the S-Line Urban Greenway and other Northside destinations.  Unfortunately, with BRT Phase 1 plans 60% complete, it appears the US DOT's complete streets recommendations has been overlooked and as a result, an opportunity to enhance bicycle connectivity through downtown will be forever lost.


Close up of how Jefferson and Broad Streets can play a role in connecting two sides of the river with dedicated bicycle facilities.


Accommodating Bicycle Lanes


Successful BRT streetscape projects, such as Cleveland's Health Line, typically include bike infrastructure considering cyclists are also likely choice bus riders.  In Cleveland's case, a six lane urban arterial highway, with a higher traffic count than Broad and Jefferson, was reduced to two travel lanes.  The remaining right-of-way was used for dedicated bus lanes, landscaped medians, bicycle lanes and sidewalks.  Cleveland's Health Line is now seen as one of the most successful BRT projects recently completed in the United States.


Cleveland's Health Line BRT streetscape project.




Back to Jacksonville...

Whether an individual likes the concept of BRT downtown is something to be discussed another day.  In this day and age, whenever we are presented with an opportunity to reconstruct an urban street it should include pedestrian and bicycle facilities and their proper accommodation should be just as much of a priority as transit and automobile movement.  After all that's what the whole "Complete Streets" policies recommended by Washington is all about.  It's also why communities that feature multimodal infrastructure requests for federal funding initiatives, like the TIGER grants, typically fare better than those that don't.


The Downtown Transit project design and construction schedule.

Fortunately, this is a mistake and potential lost opportunity we can avoid.  The Downtown BRT project, which includes the complete rebuilding of Jefferson and Broad Streets, is anticipated to start construction in February 2013 and be completed by the end of 2013.  Considering the reconstruction of these thoroughfares has not started and design plans are not complete, perhaps JTA can be encouraged by local leadership and the community to find a way to spare 5' of an existing 60' right-of-way to accommodate this mode of transportation in a section of the city that desperately needs it.


Broad Street: Broad and Jefferson have more than enough width to accommodate bicycle lanes as a part of their reconstruction.  Strong consideration should be given towards complying with federal complete streets policies for the integration of multimodal streets through downtown Jacksonville.

Article by Ennis Davis







71 Comments

Adam W

June 28, 2012, 03:26:41 AM
So, will bikes not be permitted to use the bus lanes? That would be the quick and easy fix. It's less ideal than dedicated bicycle lanes, but it's not too bad - I commute daily by bike and use bus lanes (which are restricted to buses, bicycles, cabs and motorcycles). It's okay and I prefer it to cycling in regular traffic, which can get a bit hairy at times.

Noone

June 28, 2012, 03:48:17 AM
Great article.                                                                 

Reclaim bicycle lanes. Bring your cycles to city hall.

This just reinforces why Jacksonville is lost and needs to find FIND. Crescimbeni is introducing an Ord. That will address the FIND Disaster process. Too little too late?

So who will get the bicycle lane included?
The Mayor?
The new Downtown Authority?
City Council?
FDOT?
Don Redman a cycling guy.
Metrojacksonville?
JTA?

Good luck. I hope you succeed. I would just like to see a bicycle rack at the new kayak launch at Metropolitan Park Marina and another bicycle rack at the massive urban construction project on the Northbank Riverwalk that is next to the Historic Promised 680' Downtown Public Pier that is connecting to Bay St.

Noone

June 28, 2012, 03:57:28 AM
So, will bikes not be permitted to use the bus lanes? That would be the quick and easy fix. It's less ideal than dedicated bicycle lanes, but it's not too bad - I commute daily by bike and use bus lanes (which are restricted to buses, bicycles, cabs and motorcycles). It's okay and I prefer it to cycling in regular traffic, which can get a bit hairy at times.

Good question.

deathstar

June 28, 2012, 06:19:12 AM
Show up to City Council with my bicycle? Tell me when and where, and I'll attempt to convince some friends to join me. But for starters, who can I contact via email or letter to voice my opinion?

Thank You.

jcjohnpaint

June 28, 2012, 07:03:15 AM
It kills me this BRT is running parallel with the skyway.  Only if Jacksonville got awards for doing things half assed!

thelakelander

June 28, 2012, 07:06:42 AM
So, will bikes not be permitted to use the bus lanes? That would be the quick and easy fix. It's less ideal than dedicated bicycle lanes, but it's not too bad - I commute daily by bike and use bus lanes (which are restricted to buses, bicycles, cabs and motorcycles). It's okay and I prefer it to cycling in regular traffic, which can get a bit hairy at times.



This could be a solution, considering this is what's proposed on the Southbank.  However, plans currently show that the bus lane will become an extra travel lane for cars during off peak hours.  So as a part of the streetscape, these roads will be "widened" from an existing two travel lanes to three.
Good question.

fsujax

June 28, 2012, 07:46:11 AM
Did anyone ask why at the meeting? They are doing it on the Southbank, so it is not like they are opposed to it. Maybe there are some other factors at play here? City opposition maybe?

Adam W

June 28, 2012, 07:48:26 AM
I may be missing the point here, but the only 'plus' I can see to a BRT system is the 'R' part - and if the lane is shared with cars (even only sometimes) it means it will basically be business as usual. So I don't see the incentive to ride the BRT if it's going to potentially be stuck in traffic (at times).

I think a trolleyway in the area where the bus lane is would be a far better idea. There could be a low curb separating it from the traffic lane. And it even makes more sense if the bus lane isn't going to be used as a cycle lane.

simms3

June 28, 2012, 07:48:30 AM
The sidewalks are going to be 8.5-13 ft wide, and yet nobody is going to use them.  Put in a 5 ft bike lane and find a way to make it work at the sidewalk level so at the rare moment it does dip down to 3.5 ft, a creative solution can be found to keep it at 5 ft (what's an additional 1.5 ft).

The problem with the city is that people either don't have a brain to use or they just don't feel like using them.

simms3

June 28, 2012, 07:49:08 AM
How much was all this going to cost again?

Adam W

June 28, 2012, 08:06:18 AM
The sidewalks are going to be 8.5-13 ft wide, and yet nobody is going to use them.  Put in a 5 ft bike lane and find a way to make it work at the sidewalk level so at the rare moment it does dip down to 3.5 ft, a creative solution can be found to keep it at 5 ft (what's an additional 1.5 ft).

The problem with the city is that people either don't have a brain to use or they just don't feel like using them.

That's a great idea. And it's not like there will be so much pedestrian or cycle traffic at first anyway - so it's not like shared use for the narrower bits would be that big a deal.

It would seem that, if the city is going to spend a lot of money and undertake a major transport project, they would at least try and address these sorts of issues when they're doing it.

thelakelander

June 28, 2012, 09:13:25 AM
Did anyone ask why at the meeting? They are doing it on the Southbank, so it is not like they are opposed to it. Maybe there are some other factors at play here? City opposition maybe?

Could it be the same entity that thought it was a good idea to spend $800k on a pocket park next to Salvation Army on Main Street?  That same entity that has assembled a task force that recommended spending $30k/annually for a chair shuffler in Hemming Plaza?  That's certainly not out of the realm of possibility.  But the core reason or who is specifically at fault really isn't the issue, IMO. 

If someone wants an extra travel lane and parallel parking, there's still enough room to accommodate a 4' to 5' bicycle lane as Simms3 pointed out.  A simple solution to accommodating all of those things is to slice 2' to 2.5' from each sidewalk to create the necessary room.  If someone simply doesn't want bicycle facilities that improve safety for the end users, then even that needs to be clearly known and openly discussed and debated throughout the community.  Which leads to why I wrote this article. 

The thing I hope to bring out with this story is highlighting what's coming our way in the upcoming months and the opportunity we stand to lose while the design process is still ongoing.

It's better to bring this up for discussion now, then after its built and people start questioning why we would spend millions on reconstruction in the 21st century and not incorporate basic quality-of-life enhancing and safety elements of urban roadway design that are openly endorsed and recommended by the USDOT.  Perhaps the dialogue will prompt a decision maker higher up in the food chain than the rest of us to influence a modification before its too late?

fsujax

June 28, 2012, 09:16:55 AM
Where is the Mayor on this issue? surely he can influence some deicsion makers.

thelakelander

June 28, 2012, 09:18:05 AM
Good question?

Adam W

June 28, 2012, 09:25:59 AM
Quote
It's better to bring this up for discussion now, then after its built and people start questioning why we would spend millions on reconstruction in the 21st century and not incorporate basic quality-of-life enhancing and safety elements of urban roadway design that are openly endorsed and recommended by the USDOT. 

Exactly! Now is the perfect time to get this sorted - instead of building it as planned and then having to shell out lots of money down the road to get the bike lanes or whatever built. Or, even worse, using the cost to add bike lanes later as an excuse to not build them.

I can't imagine it would make much difference to the overall cost of the project to include bike facilities. And if it does cost more, it's going to seem like a lot less when added to the total cost now than it will later on as a standalone cost.

cline

June 28, 2012, 09:40:53 AM
Where is the Mayor on this issue? surely he can influence some deicsion makers.

JTA knows full well the elements of design endorsed by the USDOT (or at least they should).  Yet they continue to come up with asinine designs that fly in the face of those quality of life enhancements.  Then they release the plans and everyone is left wondering "What the hell is this?" and now we have to lobby local officials to change a design to include things that should have been there in the first place.  It gets old. 

wsansewjs

June 28, 2012, 09:42:58 AM
It's simple.

JTA is full of idiots.

-Josh

thelakelander

June 28, 2012, 09:46:36 AM
I can't imagine it would make much difference to the overall cost of the project to include bike facilities. And if it does cost more, it's going to seem like a lot less when added to the total cost now than it will later on as a standalone cost.

It's actually cheaper to restripe.  The lion's share of the project's costs (I believe its $12 million) is to rebuild these streets to accommodate dedicated bus lanes and wider sidewalks/streetscape (brick pavers, period lighting fixtures, etc.).

Tacachale

June 28, 2012, 09:50:23 AM
This is disappointing, if not surprising. What are the chances of fixing this?

thelakelander

June 28, 2012, 09:57:10 AM
How much was all this going to cost again?

$12 million.  Around 80% is being funded through the Fed's small starts program.

thelakelander

June 28, 2012, 09:58:27 AM
This is disappointing, if not surprising. What are the chances of fixing this?

If the council or the mayor can be influenced to support a truly multimodal street design then good.  They have to influence to get things changed fairly quickly than the rest of us do.

L.P. Hovercraft

June 28, 2012, 10:32:17 AM
But for starters, who can I contact via email or letter to voice my opinion?

I'd start with City Council and the Mayor. 
JTA too?

Anyone else with their hand in this project?

simms3

June 28, 2012, 10:41:38 AM
JTA acts like it is some aircraft carrier of an organization, too busy to turn.  It also acts like Jacksonville is some congested nightmare when that is only partly true in the suburbs where arterials and feeder roads dominate.  These roads where the busses are going to go are DEVOID of cars and pedestrians.  There is no reason to "plan" for the hoards of pedestrians here when that ain't ever going to arrive, and there is no reason not to plan for bikes now when now is easier than ever to put those lanes in.

If these roads served 25,000+ cars a day and required JSO to regulate the intersections and garages emptied out tens of thousands of commuters within a block and businesses lined the streets, it might be a more difficult situation (and perhaps not the best kind of street for bike lanes!).

thelakelander

June 28, 2012, 10:47:28 AM
Since there are shared bike/bus lanes on the Southbank as a part of this project, JTA may not be the entity forcing the bad Northbank roadway design.  Either public works or the JEDC could be a factor in the current layout.  In either event, all three can be easily influenced by the mayor's office and council.

peestandingup

June 28, 2012, 10:55:58 AM
This town's priorities are completely effed. They know the problems, they know the safety issues when it comes to cyclists/pedestrians, and they know the un-sustainability of all of this mess. Yet they continually go against what's best for turning these things around & let the special interests keep having their way. Or maybe they're just stupid & have zero idea on how to run a modern city? Regardless, thats basically how it goes here it would seem & this is just business as usual for Jax & the good ol boy network.

Sure, I could post solutions, we could have discussions, this & that. But would that really matter? I'm convinced that anything that has to do with alternate modes of transportation here (basically anything besides getting into your own lovely automobile) is done so half-assed that it will discourage such thinking. Buses (with hour long wait times at stops with horrible conditions) that takes you an additional hour to go only a few miles, an insanely expensive monorail (that can never be extended because of that) built overtop a city with an extremely small population density that doesn't go anywhere, bike lanes put out in the middle of nowhere unconnected to anything, yet nothing in the core where it's really needed.

Does anyone else see this, or am I just wearing my tin foil hat again?

fsujax

June 28, 2012, 11:36:00 AM
^^haha.

tayana42

June 28, 2012, 12:00:55 PM
What this city lacks is good government and inspired authorities (JAA is a positive example) JTA is a failure.

Kay

June 28, 2012, 12:27:03 PM
Downtown does not have an advocate like Soutbank does in San Marco Preservation.  Can Transform Jax take this fight on?

cline

June 28, 2012, 01:38:05 PM
Downtown does not have an advocate like Soutbank does in San Marco Preservation.  Can Transform Jax take this fight on?

Downtown is all that the Mayor talks about.  You would think he is the advocate.

Bill Hoff

June 28, 2012, 02:01:10 PM
The Jacksonville Bicycle Coalition would like your enthusiasm and particpation.

They attend every BPAC meeting and are the bicycle organization best equipped to advocate.

For example, arranged for the Mayor to attend Bike Month at Art Walk a few months ago. And organize a host of other bike advocacy and activities.

http://jaxbikecoalition.org/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Jacksonville-Bicycle-Coalition/172300239518264

Open group meetings are held 2x month, at Bold Bean in Riverside and Three Layers in Springfield, respectively.

Engage them.

 

PeeJayEss

June 28, 2012, 02:18:13 PM
Is that 2nd picture in the article the whole system?!? Does this thing just duplicate the Skyway and do nothing else?

Jefferson and Broad will remain 1 way? If that is the case, why even keep 2 lanes? 3 lanes during off-peak hours is excessive. 2 lanes is already excessive as it stands to for Jefferson.

tufsu1

June 28, 2012, 03:12:11 PM
Downtown does not have an advocate like Soutbank does in San Marco Preservation.  Can Transform Jax take this fight on?

Already engaged Kay

tufsu1

June 28, 2012, 03:16:41 PM
Jefferson and Broad will remain 1 way? If that is the case, why even keep 2 lanes? 3 lanes during off-peak hours is excessive. 2 lanes is already excessive as it stands to for Jefferson.

I disagree....there is a need for 2 lanes of traffic on each of the one-way streets

what should happen is this:

let the buses have their own lane during peak hours....and replace that lane by not allowing on-street parking during the same time period.

This is done in countless cities and all it takes is a little bit of enforcement.

cline

June 28, 2012, 03:19:27 PM
^If there's one thing Jax is good at downtown, its handing out parking tickets.

CityLife

June 28, 2012, 03:40:14 PM

They attend every BPAC meeting and are the bicycle organization best equipped to advocate.

For example, arranged for the Mayor to attend Bike Month at Art Walk a few months ago. And organize a host of other bike advocacy and activities.


There are people like Ennis, Doug, Wiatt, and others who understand the planning, engineering, and policy side of this at a high level and probably should be consulted with by anyone trying to advocate against this. Influencing policy decisions of JTA, City Council, Mayors Office and power players in town is a whole different ball game then getting the mayor to ride a bicycle at Art Walk.

It would be great to have the energy and passion of the Bicycle Coalition to be engaged in this, but if they do, they should probably touch base with some of the aforementioned names. Or perhaps some of the aforementioned will reach out to the Bicycle Coalition.

jcjohnpaint

June 28, 2012, 03:42:36 PM
Bikes and walking are part of a 'complete' transportation system and should be factored in to the equation.  For this BRT system to act as a main line duplicating services of the skyway and proposed commuter rail, without a care for bikes or pedestrians is a knife in the heart of complete transportation.  Somebody thinks this BRT is going to be a transportation fix all- They are wrong!

PeeJayEss

June 28, 2012, 04:03:40 PM
There are people like Ennis, Doug, Wiatt, and others who understand the planning, engineering, and policy side of this at a high level and probably should be consulted with by anyone trying to advocate against this. Influencing policy decisions of JTA, City Council, Mayors Office and power players in town is a whole different ball game then getting the mayor to ride a bicycle at Art Walk.

It would be great to have the energy and passion of the Bicycle Coalition to be engaged in this, but if they do, they should probably touch base with some of the aforementioned names. Or perhaps some of the aforementioned will reach out to the Bicycle Coalition.

Not to completely belittle the efforts, work, and experience of the JBC or anything...

CityLife

June 28, 2012, 04:07:50 PM
There are people like Ennis, Doug, Wiatt, and others who understand the planning, engineering, and policy side of this at a high level and probably should be consulted with by anyone trying to advocate against this. Influencing policy decisions of JTA, City Council, Mayors Office and power players in town is a whole different ball game then getting the mayor to ride a bicycle at Art Walk.

It would be great to have the energy and passion of the Bicycle Coalition to be engaged in this, but if they do, they should probably touch base with some of the aforementioned names. Or perhaps some of the aforementioned will reach out to the Bicycle Coalition.

Not to completely belittle the efforts, work, and experience of the JBC or anything...

Didn't in any way. The reality is that Ennis and others probably understand this better than they do (heck probably better than virtually everyone). After all they are professionals and get paid to do this stuff for a living. That's a compliment to the talents of the aforementioned and not an insult to the JBC.

Not sure if you noticed, but we are hearing about this because of the hard work, knowledge, and quality of writing from Ennis...

John P

June 28, 2012, 04:41:50 PM
It would be great to have the energy and passion of the Bicycle Coalition to be engaged in this, but if they do, they should probably touch base with some of the aforementioned names. Or perhaps some of the aforementioned will reach out to the Bicycle Coalition.

Connecting planning expertise and connections with bicycle expertise and passion sounds like a good idea. It will take both.

peestandingup

June 28, 2012, 10:38:17 PM
Actually just took this today while I was sitting at a red light & watching this poor guy struggle to get up the road. I think it belongs here.

Ocklawaha

June 28, 2012, 11:37:44 PM





Bikes, Car's and Buses in Bogota, which one's make the most sense? HINT? It ain't the cars.


Typical Bikeway in Colombia


In the more restricted area, a whole lane is dedicated to Bikes and marked as in this photo of 'Chica de la Bicicleta.'


What would stop Jacksonville from doing this on a couple of downtown streets? Photo taken in Madrid.


Scene of the opening of 100 KM of new urban bikeways. Derecho de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina


This is my preferred method of installation, bikes + auto's or buses don't mix well. The argument that Jacksonville doesn't need this because we have no critical mass of bikes or pedestrians downtown is rather like wanting a few chickens but refusing to entertain any eggs. Waiting for a huge demand is a recipe for some future major reconstruction. This would be far less costly to put into place while we are rebuilding the streets. Photo from El Mundo.


A similar 'Ciclovia' in Nueva York...


Bicycles and BRT work in harmony in Bogota.


Do you REALLY want to ride your bike in a JTA shared lane? In the last year JTA has taken out a dump truck, a school bus and a dozen or so automobiles, your bicycle might as well have a target painted on it.



Adam W

June 29, 2012, 03:01:53 AM

Quote
Do you REALLY want to ride your bike in a JTA shared lane? In the last year JTA has taken out a dump truck, a school bus and a dozen or so automobiles, your bicycle might as well have a target painted on it.

It's an issue of training - I think JTA would need to train all of its drivers to ensure they know how to drive around cyclists.

It's a little short-sighted to discount the idea. It's far from ideal, sure... but it's better than nothing. And it's not that dangerous. Many thousands of people bike daily in London and share bus lanes. The numbers of bus-related fatalities are low. And almost exclusively the fault of the cyclists (people have a tendency to try and overtake the bus on the inside while it's waiting at a light and get crushed). More deaths result from HGVs than buses.

Again, I don't think it's ideal, but it is an option. And to answer your question, I wouldn't hesitate to ride my bike in a shared lane. Hell - after riding in traffic in Jax, sharing a lane solely with a bus would have to be significantly safer.

tufsu1

June 29, 2012, 07:53:07 AM
Do you REALLY want to ride your bike in a JTA shared lane? In the last year JTA has taken out a dump truck, a school bus and a dozen or so automobiles, your bicycle might as well have a target painted on it. [/center]

well the portion of the southbank BRT that has the shared bike/bus lanes also has wide sidewalks....so if you don't want to ride in the shared lane, you don't have to.

Adam W

June 29, 2012, 08:04:01 AM
Do you REALLY want to ride your bike in a JTA shared lane? In the last year JTA has taken out a dump truck, a school bus and a dozen or so automobiles, your bicycle might as well have a target painted on it. [/center]

well the portion of the southbank BRT that has the shared bike/bus lanes also has wide sidewalks....so if you don't want to ride in the shared lane, you don't have to.

I agree. Though I am opposed to the thought of cyclists using sidewalks. I realise it is legal, but I don't like the idea, because I think it reinforces the notion that cyclists are basically the same as pedestrians and undermines their right to use the road in the minds of motorists and others who seem to have issues with cyclists.

By allowing ourselves to be relegated to sidewalks, we're allowing the City to not feel it's necessary to build adequate cycle lanes.

On the other hand, I don't blame anyone for not wanting to put his body on the line to make a political point  :D

Abhishek

June 29, 2012, 08:26:22 AM
Do you REALLY want to ride your bike in a JTA shared lane? In the last year JTA has taken out a dump truck, a school bus and a dozen or so automobiles, your bicycle might as well have a target painted on it.

It is a question of subjective safety. Bus drivers are required to make stop-schedules on time...they may even be penalized for delays. A bicyclist riding in front of them could delay their journey, thereby causing animosity. Moreover, riding on a bus-lane during rush hour will make a cyclist want to ride faster to keep up with the approaching bus behind, immaterial of the nature of the bus driver. This situation should be undesirable. Cyclists should not feel like they need to ride faster to stay in traffic.

Further, shared-bus-bike lanes will dissuade any novices from using these facilities, leaving only the more seasoned commuters to use this facility. Subjective safety is one of those concepts that many planners do not understand since they can not gather appropriate statistics around it. It is something that is felt. Unfortunately, the only way to feel it is to ride your bike in rush-hour traffic,  not from sitting in an office behind a drafting table.

I have presented the above argument to BPAC. Apparently (and sadly), the concept of subjective safety alludes most members of that group also.

Ocklawaha

June 29, 2012, 10:30:11 AM

Quote
Do you REALLY want to ride your bike in a JTA shared lane? In the last year JTA has taken out a dump truck, a school bus and a dozen or so automobiles, your bicycle might as well have a target painted on it.

It's an issue of training - I think JTA would need to train all of its drivers to ensure they know how to drive around cyclists.

It's a little short-sighted to discount the idea. It's far from ideal, sure... but it's better than nothing. And it's not that dangerous. Many thousands of people bike daily in London and share bus lanes. The numbers of bus-related fatalities are low.

The way I see it, ANY FATALITIES ARE UNACCEPTABLE. Settling for a less then the 'ideal' will always make us second best and leave us in a position to play catch-up with our peer cities. Jacksonville certainly isn't London, or Bogota, or Los Angeles, any of those cities have a huge respect for bicycles and pedestrians and for whatever reason, we don't.

I would encourage our city officials to give more then lip service and a bucket of paint to this idea, WE NEED CURB or GRADE SEPARATED bikeways. Not only on Broad, Jefferson, Bay and Forsyth in the new BRT configuration, but a system of coordinated bike trails and sidewalks. Implementation wouldn't be that hard, consider for example, the arterial roadways where we could build 6 to 10 foot wide trails. Roosevelt to the Orange Park city limits, Atlantic/Beach Boulevard from the ICW to San Marco, Southside from Arlington to the Avenues, MLK from Main to Dinsmore, Main from Union Street to Airport Road. Once such a skeletal network was completed, a system of branch trails could be installed. Using whatever right-of-way is available and making our city lead the pack. It could be done with enough political pressure and will.

Adam W

June 29, 2012, 10:52:46 AM
Fatalities are inevitable, sadly. And they happen even when you have dedicated cycle lanes.

On a side note, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, despite having extensive networks of dedicated cycle lanes, still have "sharrows" or whatever. The relative safety of those sharrows is mostly down to a combination of driver education and cyclist education.

I'm not opposed to dedicated cycle lanes. And I am completely in support of separate, dedicated cycle lanes at street level (but separated physically from the highway).

I do, however, think a workable solution would be a system of bikes sharing the BRT lanes. As a person who cycles to and from work daily in such lanes, I have no issue with it. I think a lot of the concern is misplaced or motivated by ignorance or fear.

But as I said, I much prefer the better solution and hope that would be pursued, if at all possible. I just fear it will be a hard sell. And drawing a line in the sand on this might mean you end up with nothing at all.

thelakelander

June 29, 2012, 12:24:41 PM
Abhishek, great point about subjective safety.  It's one of the reasons I would never ride in a bike lane on a road like Beach or Southside Boulevard, despite them having "official" bicycle facilities.  The same goes for sidewalks along our arterial roads that are designed to meet minimum roadway standards.

Ocklawaha

June 29, 2012, 12:53:22 PM
Abhishek, great point about subjective safety.  It's one of the reasons I would never ride in a bike lane on a road like Beach or Southside Boulevard, despite them having "official" bicycle facilities.  The same goes for sidewalks along our arterial roads that are designed to meet minimum roadway standards.

Shame that our mayor and council are so allusive that we can't get them to sit down with the bicycle clubs and community and hammer out a bikeway system with dedicated lanes, curb or grade separated from the roadways. A summit with a goal of setting standards and target dates for completion would give this city a huge boost.  Volunteerism and other 'complete' community involvement throughout the process would insure we have a bike system second to none.

And yes Adam, fatalities are inevitable, but that should never make us lose sight of a safety goal of ZERO fatalities in the design and construction of our USA version of the 'Cyclovia's'. Set a gold standard and strive to reach it is all I'm saying. As Lake pointed out riding in those official 'suicide' lanes is crazy. My favorite ones are where we have a busy 6 lane roadway and a double turn lane and the bike lanes cut across the path of the turning vehicles in order to hug the right side of the through traffic lanes. Being turned into a Mack/Wabash National sandwich, isn't my idea of good planning.

Adam W

June 29, 2012, 01:03:28 PM
Abhishek, great point about subjective safety.  It's one of the reasons I would never ride in a bike lane on a road like Beach or Southside Boulevard, despite them having "official" bicycle facilities.  The same goes for sidewalks along our arterial roads that are designed to meet minimum roadway standards.

Shame that our mayor and council are so allusive that we can't get them to sit down with the bicycle clubs and community and hammer out a bikeway system with dedicated lanes, curb or grade separated from the roadways. A summit with a goal of setting standards and target dates for completion would give this city a huge boost.  Volunteerism and other 'complete' community involvement throughout the process would insure we have a bike system second to none.

And yes Adam, fatalities are inevitable, but that should never make us lose sight of a safety goal of ZERO fatalities in the design and construction of our USA version of the 'Cyclovia's'. Set a gold standard and strive to reach it is all I'm saying. As Lake pointed out riding in those official 'suicide' lanes is crazy. My favorite ones are where we have a busy 6 lane roadway and a double turn lane and the bike lanes cut across the path of the turning vehicles in order to hug the right side of the through traffic lanes. Being turned into a Mack/Wabash National sandwich, isn't my idea of good planning.

Don't they have cycle lanes at the St Johns Town Center? I think I saw them there. You'd have to be crazy to use those.

I agree with your sentiment about that aim being 0 fatalities. And I think a comprehensive approach must be taken - everyone needs to do his/her part to ensure the roads are safe. And I think the gov't needs to lead the way. By failing to provide adequate cycling resources, they're putting money ahead of lives. And that's not acceptable. Not to mention shortsighted - it seems clear to me that better cycle lanes (in addition to transport, etc) might cost more in the short term, but would eventually lead to a wider tax base.

toi

July 04, 2012, 04:09:34 PM
Given the circumstances, consider looking at making a block east or west a really good bikeway.   A friend of mine and I have been researching Pearl St., from Springfield to the courthouse.  There is gracious plenty right of way width to make a great bikeway there, with little more needed than signage, paint, and ideally, a few plastic bollards.  It would provide a relatively protected route between springfield, downtown, the brt, the riverwalk, and Riverside (via the riverwalk).  Yes, there might be a gap of a few blocks between the courthouse and the riverwalk, but that is a relatively short distance. 

Tom Ingram

thelakelander

July 04, 2012, 09:06:41 PM
Pearl Street would be a great street for a bikeway. Personally, I think all of downtown's streets should include bike infrastructure as they are repaved or striped. This week, I've spent time in Charlotte,Columbus, Chicago and Detroit. All four are actively building bike networks instead of isolated corridors.

Ocklawaha

July 05, 2012, 12:53:42 AM


I'm posting this as an example, it's actually a Jacksonville road map from 1920, but those dark lines with a few modifications would be what i would promote as the start of a true bike network.

Within that network,

Every road would feature a sidewalk on one side, and a curb/grade separated bikeway or cyclovia on the other. Once the dark lines were filled in we could move into constructing connectors. Major routes that are largely without sidewalks such as Philips Highway, JTB, Old St. Augustine Road, etc. should follow this formula. In the case of our local FREEways I'd suggest that JTB and similar limited access highways should have a multi-use path running along the perimeter fences. This would work wonders in places like not just on JTB but also along Arlington Expressway, Hart Expressway, etc. A great model for these multi-use paths can be found in Clay County running the length of Flemming Island on the west side of Roosevelt, or the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail.

St. Johns County is moving along with construction of a new rail trail between St. Augustine to East Palatka along state 207, and the former Florida East Coast's original mainline through East Palatka.

Quote
Construction on State Road 207 bike trail begins
Posted: September 28, 2011 - 12:50am

The Florida Department of Transportation began construction this month on a three-mile, multi-use trail along State Road 207 in western St. Johns County.

The new trail will connect the existing trail, about a mile south of Vermont Heights to Armstrong Road.

A multi-use trail is a designated path for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized vehicles.

The trail will be 12 feet wide with multi-use asphalt and have 2-foot wide grass shoulders. It will cross S.R. 207 about a half-mile north of County Road 305.

The trail will also include a 130-foot long pedestrian bridge near the St. Johns County Fairgrounds.

The project should be finished by spring 2012 and cost around $1.3 million.

Construction on the multi-use trail will be near homes in some areas, especially as it gets close to Armstrong Road. People will be able to access their driveways during construction.

People should be cautious near the construction area. For information about this project, go to www.nflroads.com.

JayBird

August 28, 2012, 04:26:06 PM
Great article and even better comments.  One thing I must say is that a plus to this is that JTA is planning for the future.  Everything is cyclical so in ten fifteen years dt might see a huge regrowth that would have thousands of cars entering the roadways during commuter rush hours ... And JTA would've planned ahead (I can't believe I even said that bc planning isn't their strong point, so maybe it's accidental forward thinking).  Also, I look at bike lanes as a luxury item.  A nice to have for those that use it.  But in all honesty, how many people use them?  Though I commute to dt from Fleming island everyday very rarely do I see bikes up 17 or even dt.  I tend to see more during the weekend out as recreational riders, and they cannot ride four and five across in a bike lane.  Currently, I am in NYC on business and I notice that the bike lanes here are hardly ever used.  When I asked why, riders say it is safer to be riding in traffic, where you are constantly seen.  Bike paths get overrun by pedestrians, cars and taxis constantly duck into them to let people out, and you have a much better chance of getting 'doored' if you are in those special lanes.  After watching this myself, it all makes perfect sense.  Now Jax has nowhere near the density of NYC, but one asks if you spend money to build something, will it be used and is it really worth it?  That being said, I am pro-bike lanes, just I think they are a luxury. 

PeeJayEss

August 28, 2012, 05:03:31 PM
^I think if you look at the cost difference between providing bike lanes and not, its fairly minimal compared to the cost of constructing/widening the road. Heck, if it can be done by just re-painting, it can't be all that costly, so its cheap luxury. Its like the return you get on cleaning and painting a new room. Actually, its better.

I'm personally for separate bike paths (either smaller "roadways" that are separate from the car roads - a la Netherlands - or at least ones on the same surface separated by barriers). I agree that bike lanes in themself are not particularly safe, except that they make it more apparent that a driver should expect bikers. If they were everywhere, maybe people would get the idea that bikers can use the road as well. Additionally, bikes should have the right of way whenever possible, and bike laws should be enforced more strictly for both bikers and drivers (many accidents are the result of careless driving, but many are also the result of a biker doing something against the rules of the road).

JFman00

August 28, 2012, 09:56:10 PM
Great article and even better comments.  One thing I must say is that a plus to this is that JTA is planning for the future.  Everything is cyclical so in ten fifteen years dt might see a huge regrowth that would have thousands of cars entering the roadways during commuter rush hours ... And JTA would've planned ahead (I can't believe I even said that bc planning isn't their strong point, so maybe it's accidental forward thinking).  Also, I look at bike lanes as a luxury item.  A nice to have for those that use it.  But in all honesty, how many people use them?  Though I commute to dt from Fleming island everyday very rarely do I see bikes up 17 or even dt.  I tend to see more during the weekend out as recreational riders, and they cannot ride four and five across in a bike lane.  Currently, I am in NYC on business and I notice that the bike lanes here are hardly ever used.  When I asked why, riders say it is safer to be riding in traffic, where you are constantly seen.  Bike paths get overrun by pedestrians, cars and taxis constantly duck into them to let people out, and you have a much better chance of getting 'doored' if you are in those special lanes.  After watching this myself, it all makes perfect sense.  Now Jax has nowhere near the density of NYC, but one asks if you spend money to build something, will it be used and is it really worth it?  That being said, I am pro-bike lanes, just I think they are a luxury.

From home to work would be less than 15 minutes by bike for me, mostly on 17, but it'd be suicidal to ride a bike down it. Maybe if there were a protected bike lane:


Otherwise, there's no way in hell I'd want to pavement with cars going 50-60. Rarely have I ever seen a bike lane or BRT that is anything more than feel-goodery.

JayBird

August 29, 2012, 01:56:50 AM
Agreed JFMan, I'm a Harley rider and I've had many close calls on 17, ESP between Timaquana and San Juan.  And PeeJay, yes seperate paths are much better, that's what we have on Fleming Island and it is very safe, well used and a great example of what can be done elsewhere.  And sometimes it is cyclists fault, but that can be applied to every mode of transportation.  Even though I ride my motorcycle safe, I see plenty complete fools on two wheels.  But planning for idiots only breeds more.

Ocklawaha

August 29, 2012, 09:02:44 AM
Agreed JFMan, I'm a Harley rider and I've had many close calls on 17, ESP between Timaquana and San Juan.  And PeeJay, yes seperate paths are much better, that's what we have on Fleming Island and it is very safe, well used and a great example of what can be done elsewhere.  And sometimes it is cyclists fault, but that can be applied to every mode of transportation.  Even though I ride my motorcycle safe, I see plenty complete fools on two wheels.  But planning for idiots only breeds more.

+1


FACING NORTHBOUND.

Herein is the problem on JTA'S southeastern BRT route. Sidewalks on the southbound side only go as far as Reba Street (between Emerson and University, and on the northbound lanes there is virtually nothing until one reaches  a little north of Hudnall Street. Our problem isn't "But planning for idiots only breeds more," it's more like "Breeding idiots to do our planning."

Keep in mind that Philips is a spine route for the MAX BRT presumably because of ridership and a large percentage of transit dependent people and choice .riders (IE: riders that could drive but choose transit). If this were a 'Light Rail' project, we'd be planning complete streets, massive landscaping, new streetscape, sidewalks, bike trails etc. We'd be told that BRT is 'Just like rail-only cheaper. They'd be telling us new infrastructure is needed because ridership will require it, this begs the question, if BRT is REALLY 'Just like rail' how come we don't have to reinvent the street to make it work? Maybe it's not as 'just like rail' as the propaganda and disinformation would have us believe.

I would support laying out a 5' wide, asphalt bike/pedestrian lane all the way from Reba Street to the Nocatee Flyover. couldn't we just call this a 'need?'

JayBird

August 29, 2012, 09:53:27 AM
As usual Ock, that is a great idea.  And yes idiots doing the planning is more apt.  I've often questioned, as many on here, how can JTA build BRT right along side future proposed commuter rail and at same time say they are planning for future rail?  And as for BRT, I've looked on here and haven't found it, but it may be somewhere here, has anyone shown the difference this would make?  I mean according to schedules you can choose from two or three buses to go from dt all the way to avenues mall ... Isn't BRT just a redundancy then?  I would think if traffic was really that bad where you needed dedicated lanes for a "high speed bus" then the best solution would be to build these bike lanes instead and let commuters combat obesity!  Plus, all the talk JTA does about money, isn't the cost per rider much less on commuter rail, SkyWay system or even a dt trolley system than a bus could ever be?

Ocklawaha

August 29, 2012, 12:16:45 PM
As usual Ock, that is a great idea.  And yes idiots doing the planning is more apt.  I've often questioned, as many on here, how can JTA build BRT right along side future proposed commuter rail and at same time say they are planning for future rail?  And as for BRT, I've looked on here and haven't found it, but it may be somewhere here, has anyone shown the difference this would make?  I mean according to schedules you can choose from two or three buses to go from dt all the way to avenues mall ... Isn't BRT just a redundancy then?  I would think if traffic was really that bad where you needed dedicated lanes for a "high speed bus" then the best solution would be to build these bike lanes instead and let commuters combat obesity!  Plus, all the talk JTA does about money, isn't the cost per rider much less on commuter rail, SkyWay system or even a dt trolley system than a bus could ever be?

It is true that the O&M costs for light rail, streetcar, etc. are cheaper then buses.

My problem with this route is as much about demand then it is duplication. If there are really so many thousands of pedestrians and bike riders that need to catch a bus on Phillips, then wouldn't it make more sense to FIRST provide them with a nice, safe, pedestrian friendly bike trail alongside the road? Imagine how many more people might catch these buses if people didn't have to stand in the rain, walk through sand spurs, bicycle through bushes, duck under trees and hop ditches? If providing a network of hybrid, lane separated bike/pedestrian trails really this hard to understand?

Pinky

August 29, 2012, 03:35:23 PM
I think that our climate is a bigger obstacle to increased bicycle commuting than the roads are.  The winters are too cold for comfortable riding, the summers too hot, and the spring and fall are too rainy.  I know that I can rarely spend a full day on my chopper because of the climate, choosing instead to use it to run errands or just do recreational rides when conditions allow.  (Early or late in the day for example..) Its the same reason why the roof stays on my Lotus about 90% of the time; our weather is just too extreme to be out there in the noonday sun. 

We could build a million miles of bike trails, but I suspect that unless we enclose and air condition them, the only people who will use them are folks who have no other alternative.





Ocklawaha

August 29, 2012, 04:48:40 PM

Really? Then why would they build bike trails in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma, where the summer temperature can be 122 degrees outside!


...And this one has to be the winner of them all.... DEATH VALLEY. And it has several hundred miles of bike trails. YIKES!

No I'm not convinced that folks won't ride because it's too hot or too cold, Local's and those aclimated to Florida can blow this off and ride! Or WALK! Trouble is, we're building a 'mass transit spine' that will collect 'thousands of riders' and not one of them is going to get to that bus stop on a sidewalk.

Pinky

August 29, 2012, 05:10:14 PM
It's a dry heat.

I was in Phoenix in June.  108 degrees, but not a drop of sweat.  Jax heat is different.  Plus they don't have daily rain like we do.

Adam W

August 29, 2012, 05:53:27 PM
It's a dry heat.

I was in Phoenix in June.  108 degrees, but not a drop of sweat.  Jax heat is different.  Plus they don't have daily rain like we do.

It's definitely not too cold to cycle in Jax during the winter. And at least the winters tend to be drier, too. It is hot in the summer (and for most of the year) which can make cycling to/from work a pain. Some employers have showers, though, and that makes everything better.

thelakelander

August 29, 2012, 05:58:46 PM
Unfortunately, another reason why its a good idea to make sure there's bicycle infrastructure added within this downtown JTA BRT project.  A cyclist was just hit by a JTA bus near San Marco Square.



It's much easier to design a road safely for multiple forms of mobility before construction actually starts.

fieldafm

August 29, 2012, 06:00:42 PM
This is the second cyclist hit this week near downtown.  A cyclist was hit on Riverside Avenue near RAM earlier this week.

acme54321

August 29, 2012, 06:11:21 PM
There may be a few days where it is too cold to ride... but riding in the winter here is generally awesome.  I have met numerous people at Santos in Ocala (Big mountin bike trail) that have come down here just to ride in the winter.

tufsu1

August 29, 2012, 10:25:01 PM
seems to be a cyclist hit almost every day

Tacachale

August 30, 2012, 12:15:19 PM
^Yes, and it would seem to disprove the notion that people don't bike here. Many more would do so too if it wasn't so dangerous.

Ocklawaha

August 30, 2012, 12:46:22 PM
^Yes, and it would seem to disprove the notion that people don't bike here. Many more would do so too if it wasn't so dangerous.

Agreed, I don't think there is ANY acceptable excuse for putting bikes next to high speed vehicle lanes. Kernan notwithstanding, there is also no excuse that we don't have a basic network of grade separated bike/pedestrian trails.

BOB

Adam W

August 30, 2012, 02:58:36 PM
I just came across this video on a blog I frequent and thought it was pretty amazing. A great solution to getting cyclists safely across busy and dangerous roads. Leave it to the Dutch to do something like this:

http://youtu.be/fxN2atgF7tQ

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