Could protected bike lanes finally be coming to downtown Jacksonville? Yes, and Hogan Street is ground zero for this much-needed infrastructure and placemaking improvement.
Zero bike lanes exist downtown. The time has finally come to add much-needed bicycle infrastructure, and that opportunity presents itself by adding a protected bike lane along Hogan Street.
Walkability is central to downtown’s success. To that end- Hogan Street is defined by wide sidewalks, low automobile traffic counts, a connection to the river, access to transit and one of the few thoroughfares that features an uninterrupted supply of existing building stock.
Driven by a need to safely connect burgeoning urban neighborhoods like Riverside and Brooklyn with downtown, while also expanding safe bicycle access throughout Jacksonville’s urban core: Hogan Street offers a high-value corridor to serve as a critical spine in downtown’s transportation network. Linking this bikeway with the Rosa Parks transit center provides cyclists using the Skyway or various busses with a last mile connection to the central business district (jobs) and recreational opportunities (retail, restaurants, parks, etc).
Riverside, Brooklyn and Downtown have the highest rates of commuting by bicycle in Jacksonville. The development of the City of Jacksonville’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan focused on increasing infrastructure in the areas with the highest existing levels of bicycling and walking, the highest concentrations of crashes as well as the biggest likely demand for these activities in the future.
The addition of a protected bike lane along Hogan Street can also be a fairly inexpensive way to transition an underused downtown street into a major walkable corridor, with a caveat. A bike lane in and of itself is not a magic bean. To get the most bang for the buck, low-cost and easy-to-implement improvements to the pedestrian experience along Hogan Street must be integrated in conjunction with the bike lane’s installation.
Vibrant, walkable corridors are essential to downtown's appeal
The appeal of a complete street extends beyond the roadway. While public art has been installed through the DIA’s Urban Arts Project, the street lacks bicycle parking facilities and an active sidewalk café culture. Hogan Street’s eastern sidewalk is 24’ in length- making it the widest sidewalk in all of downtown. Hogan Street also features nearly 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. Despite the presence of wide sidewalks and several retail users fronting the street, these ground floor businesses do not interact with the street and no outdoor café space accompanies these buildings (currently there are no active outdoor seating permits downtown).
Above: Despite the presence of ground level retail along Hogan Street, there are no elements to engage pedestrians. Below: A simple, but engaging outdoor patio area. Image courtesy of Coco Pazzo Cafe, Chicago.
Above: Despite the presence of ground level retail along Hogan Street, there are no elements to engage pedestrians. Below: A simple, but engaging outdoor patio area. Image courtesy of Gustav Hoiland / Legal Crossing, Boston.
Placemaking- successfully linking the built environment with end users (pedestrians) in an engaging way, is key to what makes a street ‘complete’. Hogan Street is poised to experience an economic development boon due a combination of its unique physical characteristics along with the presence of vacant and underused properties waiting to be brought back to life. Simple enhancements to Hogan Street can support local businesses by encouraging people to get out of their cars and look around, be an asset to community members who want a high quality of life and appeal to tourists and visitors who stay at hotels like the Omni and Hyatt- but often complain about the lack of places to go downtown on evenings and weekends.
The Court Urban Food Park is a cost-effective way to add life along an entire city block on Hogan Street. This concept proves that well-maintained and welcoming outdoor dining areas would be successful downtown.
Traffic Count: Hogan Street as currently configured can accommodate a maximum daily vehicle capacity of 18,252. Less than 12% of that capacity is used, meaning that on an average day there is an excess vehicular capacity of 16,182 automobiles. A lane reduction or any combination of lane narrowing would have no impact on traffic conditions.