Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Burlington Going All Dutch Cycle Track in Walk/Bike Master Plan?

Burlington Vermont with 45 Miles of Cycle Track—Going Dutch

Burlington walk/bike advocates look to cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen as examples to emulate. For cycling what would Burlington major streets be like with the Netherlands cycle track (protected bike lanes) per person?

An American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) survey found only one percent of 5,000 Burlington seniors bicycle for routine trips to shop, do errands and visit friends. It is one thing to bicycle on quiet residential streets and quite another for bicycling on busy urban arterials where only the young risk takers dare walk and bike. Bicycling remains the province of mostly young adult males everywhere—and for cities like Burlington will remain so in the future until infrastructure—cycle track for busy street sections and roundabouts to provide safe passage and traffic calming at intersections—gets built.

Right now, Burlington has 5 miles of cycle track in its landmark corridor approved plan, the North Avenue Corridor Plan (NACP) with a design free of dooring from adjacent parked vehicles. On a per person basis—there are 18,000 miles of cycle track in the Netherlands—Burlington would feature 45 miles of “track”--compared to the 127 miles of sidewalk, for example, that the City maintains year round.

As a matter of fact 45 miles of cycle track installed likely lines all of Burlington busy streets. Again, unlike sidewalks which the usual treatment on both sides of every street in the City—cycle track generally gets installed only on busy key corridors with most “local” streets considered safe and bikable by most of the population. Cycle track mostly would be on what transportation planners call collector and arterial streets. The 45 miles of cycle track would come in two basic forms—a two-way bikeway or single lane protected bike lanes about six feet wide on either side of the street. The bikeway or lanes can be built either at the vehicle lane level the sidewalk level or in between. Curbing, flexible posts or just about any other barrier can be employed to separate cyclists from vehicle lanes—just as sidewalks are separated. And in a given long corridor the cycle track configuration can change along the way.

Obviously, 45 miles of cycle track—North Avenue from North Street to Plattsburgh Avenue being 5.6 miles—means most of the major corridor streets in the City including but no limited to:
--the North Union from North Winooski-South Union (to Main Street)
--North Winooksi Avenue from Riverside to Main Street
--all of Pine Street (assuming reconnection through the Burlington Town Mall)
--North Champlain
--North Street
--Battery Street
--Pearl Street
--Main Street from Union Station to University Heights-So. Burlington border
--East Avenue
--Colchester Avenue
--College Street
--Several street sections related to the UVM and Champlain College campuses as well as UVMMC
--Lakeside Avenue
--Sections of North and South Prospect Streets and North and South Willard Streets
--Shelburne Street, lower St. Paul and So. Willard Streets

Right now the City does not have a busy street roundabout or an inch of cycle track. The only cycle track in Vermont was built a decade ago on the street segments of Dorset Street, South Burlington between Williston Road and Kennedy Drive.

The Walk Bike Master Plan process faces an easy task for identifying and some prioritizing cycle track (except for North Avenue) and roundabouts for safe walk-bike infrastructure so all residents and visitors can enjoy safe walkable-bikable busy streets here regardless of age and skill. Just go all Dutch! 

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