WalkBikeMarin recognizes the importance of developing a continuous and consistent nonmotorized transportation network. Highly localized nonmotorized transportation investments that close gaps in a network can have a broader impact in promoting bicycling and walking than if they were constructed in isolation. In other words, filling in network gaps to ensure safe and continuous walking and bicycling routes is often more important than measuring total distance of new facilities.
WalkBikeMarin is working to close gaps in nonmotorized facilities along its new Bicycle Route 5. The nearly 16-mile corridor runs north-south through Novato, San Rafael, Larkspur, and Corte Madera. Signs direct bicyclists along Bicycle Route 5, which has a mix of on- and off-road bicycle facilities. The Bicycle Route 5 map is provided in Appendix 3. The NTPP partially funded several segments of Bicycle Route 5, including the Cal Park Hill Tunnel path and bicycle lanes along Alameda del Prado, Enfrente Boulevard, and Los Ranchitos Road. The Alameda del Prado project is described below.
Alameda del Prado
Key Elements: Added bicycle lanes and improved sidewalks within the existing right-of-way along Alameda del Prado in Novato
Date Completed: July 2010
The wide median and on-street parking along Alameda del Prado between Alameda de la Loma and Posada del Sol in Novato's Loma Verde neighborhood made for a tight squeeze for motorists and bicyclists traveling along the popular north/south Route 5. Demand is increased in the southbound direction, as the corridor serves as a reliever route for automobiles when the freeway is congested. The varying median width created openings in some spots for vehicles to pass cyclists, but abrupt pinch points created conflicts when the lane needed to be shared.
Marin County constructed new bicycle lanes on Alameda del Prado. These lanes connect the existing bicycle lanes on the city of Novato segments of Alameda del Prado to the north and south of the project area, closing a key gap in Bicycle Route 5. The roadway median, 30-feet wide in some places, was narrowed to a consistent width. This allowed the county to designate one travel lane, a 5-foot bicycle lane, and a parking lane in each direction within the existing right-of-way while retaining a narrower landscaped median. The county also improved pedestrian accessibility by reconstructing sidewalks and adding curb ramps. In addition, the county installed new street lighting and underground utility wires, allowing for the removal of utility poles along the project corridor while American Recovery and Reinvestment Action (ARRA) funds were leveraged to resurface the entire roadway.
The Alameda del Prado corridor has seen significant increases in cyclist activity since completion of improvements in this corridor. Counts performed on weekdays between 4-6:00 p.m. indicate that cyclist usage has increased over 300 percent since 2007, while weekend mid-day counts show that cyclist usage has increased over 500 percent during the same period. Pedestrian activity has also increased, though not to the degree of bicycle usage, most likely due to there being sidewalks in this corridor prior to the improvement project.
Figure 23: Alameda del Prado
Figure 24: Bicycle Lanes on Alameda del Prado
Figure 25 shows increases in bicycle and pedestrian counts along Alameda del Prado. The increases in bicycle traffic may not have been as significant without the connected nonmotorized transportation network of which the new bicycle lanes along Alameda del Prado are a part. With completion of the NTPP-funded Enfrente project in 2011, which will close another gap in Bicycle Route 5, WalkBikeMarin anticipates that nonmotorized usage will continue to rise.
Figure 25: Peak Hour Counts of Pedestrians and Bicyclists
along Alameda del Prado
All of the bicycle and pedestrian projects that WalkBikeMarin implemented as part of the NTPP improved walking and bicycling safety, even when safety was not the primary goal. Projects that added capacity (e.g., new bicycle lanes or off-road facilities) or improved existing conditions (e.g., reconstructed sidewalks) all improved safety by providing more and better facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists. In addition, safety was a major theme of the outreach programs to encourage residents to use nonmotorized modes for their transportation needs.
WalkBikeMarin also undertook projects where improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety was the primary focus. Two of these projects, Saunders Crossing and Madrone Crossing involved pedestrian safety enhancements at high-demand locations where pedestrians were at greater risk along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in San Anselmo. Another project involved walking and bicycling improvements along a Medway Road in San Rafael, which is a busy thoroughfare for all users, especially pedestrians and transit users. The Medway Road Improvements project is described below.
Name: Medway Road Improvements
Key Elements: Shared lane markings (sharrows), widened sidewalks, and installed new transit shelters and street furniture. Utilities were undergrounded through a separate project.
Date Completed: October 2008
Medway Road between Canal Street and East Francisco Boulevard in San Rafael provides an important connection for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users in the Canal neighborhood to access downtown San Rafael. The neighborhood has one of the highest rates of transit usage in the county and Medway Road serves as a primary route for Marin Transit buses bound for downtown San Rafael. Prior to the start of the Medway Improvements project, the sidewalks were narrow and obstructed by utility poles, inhibiting pedestrian mobility and safety. Bicyclists shared travel lanes with automobiles and buses.
Marin County initiated the Medway Road Improvements project to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety along the 0.2-mile corridor. County officials enhanced pedestrian safety by widening sidewalks, which also allowed for the addition of street furniture and new transit shelters. A separate but concurrent project placed utility wires underground, allowing for the removal of utility poles that cluttered the sidewalks and freeing up more space for pedestrians. This also made it easier for people in wheelchairs to use the sidewalk. In order to improve bicyclist safety, shared-lane markings were added along the corridor to indicate that motorists and cyclists will be sharing the road.
With Medway Road being a primary connector between the Canal community and downtown San Rafael, there has historically been a high level of pedestrian activity and, to a lesser degree, bicycling. Since completion of the Medway Road Improvements project, weekday pedestrian activity during the peak hour has increased by 54.5 percent, from 244 observed pedestrians in 2007 to 377 in 2010 during the peak hour. Weekend pedestrian activity also increased by 34.8 percent from 198 observed pedestrians in 2007 to 267 in 2010.
Figure 26: Medway Road Sidewalk before Improvements (source: WalkBikeMarin)
Figure 27: Widened Sidewalks Improve Pedestrian Safety along Medway Road (source: WalkBikeMarin)
Weekday bicyclist activity also increased after improvements were made, though not to the degree of pedestrian activity. The county observed 59 bicyclists during the weekday peak hour in 2010, up from 55 in 2007, which is a modest increase of 7.3 percent. However, peak-hour week-end bicycling activity has nearly tripled during the same time period, from 32 observed bicyclists in 2007 to 97 in 2010.
The increases in nonmotorized activity on Medway Road are a sign that pedestrians and bicyclists feel safer in the corridor. By widening the sidewalks and adding shared-lane markings to the roadway, safety has improved, while encouraging walking and biking in a neighborhood whose residents tend to be more dependent on alternative modes of transportation.
Figure 28: Peak Hour Counts of Pedestrians and Bicyclists along Medway Road
One of the primary goals of the Twin Cities pilot has been to fill in key gaps in the local walking and bicycling network, focusing on relatively small investments to vastly expand its reach. Minneapolis already had an extensive network but was missing several key linkages, both within the city and at gateway points connecting to neighboring communities. As shown in the full project map in Appendix 3, several of the BWTC investments, though relatively short, make important connections between portions of the existing network.
Name: Marshall Ave - Saint Paul
Summary: Key linkage between on-street bicycle facilities along Marshall Ave in Saint Paul and the Grand Rounds Trail system and Midtown Greenway terminus in Minneapolis.
Length: 0.39 miles
Date Completed: October 2010
NTPP Funds Used: $495,000
The BWTC projects that fill key network gaps include:
The improvements along Marshall Avenue in Saint Paul provide a key linkage between on-street bicycle facilities in Saint Paul and the Grand Rounds Trail system and Midtown Greenway terminus in Minneapolis. This project also filled a gap in the regional sidewalk network, improving bicycle and pedestrian connections between Minneapolis and neighboring Saint Paul.
The 0.39 mile project, completed in October 2010, included reducing travel lanes from four to three, with an uphill bicycle climbing lane on one side and a wide outside lane shared by bicycles and motorists on the other side. This was Minnesota's first use of "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs. A sidewalk was installed on one side, filling a clear need in this heavy transit-use corridor, as shown in Figure 29.
The project was completed after the annual fall bicycle counts; however, TLC conducts monthly counts at the Marshall Lake Street Bridge. As shown in Figure 31, weekday peak hour bicycle counts conducted between 4-6:00 p.m., subject to seasonal variation, have been higher since the facility opened. October and November 2010 counts were 242 percent and 73 percent higher than the same months in 2009; April 2011 counts were 37 percent higher than in 2010.
Figure 29: Before and after sidewalk on Marshall Avenue (source: BWTC)
Figure 30: Bicyclist on Marshall Avenue Bicycle Lane (source: BWTC)
Figure 31: 2009-2011 April to July Monthly Average Two Hour Counts of Bicyclists at the Marshall Lake St. Bridge
Consistent with the goal of improving pedestrian and bicycling conditions and safety, Bike Walk Twin Cities has funded several "road diet" projects, reducing travel lanes and adding striped bicycle lanes where low-to-moderate traffic counts allow. These projects are primarily on four-lane, relatively narrow roads, where limited width does not provide comfortable space for bicyclists. Such conditions present safety concerns, as inexperienced cyclists may ride too close to the curb or choose the sidewalk, creating conflicts with pedestrians.
The key component of the road diet is the reduction of the number and/or width of travel lanes. The freed- up space is reallocated for improvements such as medians, shared left turn lanes, bicycle lanes, curb extensions, and other traffic calming features that improve safety for all roadway users. Road diets have been found to reduce crashes for all road users while maintaining efficient traffic operations. Two projects are highlighted here - Franklin Ave. E and Minnehaha Ave. and 20th Ave. in Minneapolis.
Name: Franklin Ave. SE
Summary: Conversion of four-lane road to three with a center turn lane and bike lanes on both sides.
Dates: Award 2007; Franklin Ave. Bridge completed August 2010, Franklin Ave. completed June 2011.
Length: 0.5 mile
NTPP Funds Used: $50,000
Results: Dedicated on-street space for bicyclists removing 43 percent of bicycle traffic off sidewalks, improving comfort and safety for the large volume of pedestrians.
Name: Minnehaha 20th Ave. S, Minneapolis
Summary: Conversion from four-lanes to three with a center turn lane and bike lanes on both sides, bicycle left turn lane, enhanced trail crossing. Length: 1.5 miles
Dates: Awarded 2007; Completed October 2010
NTPP Funds Used: $150,000
Figure 33: Bicyclists crossing Minnehaha at the Midtown Greenway
Franklin Avenue SE in Minneapolis is a key travel corridor located in the diverse Seward neighborhood. The roadway connects residential areas, the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, the Mississippi River Trail system, and Saint Paul.
Prior to the conversion, Franklin Ave. experienced daily traffic of approximately 10,000 motor vehicles, 1,500 bicyclists, and 800 pedestrians crossing the bridge over the Mississippi River. The four-lane, 44 foot-wide roadway was crowded; many bicyclists squeezed along the high curb in dangerous proximity to vehicles or rode on the sidewalk, creating conflicts with pedestrians.
The road diet allowed for a continuation of bicycle lanes throughout the corridor and other improvements such as bicycle lane separation from right turn lanes and a bicycle box treatment at the intersection at the east end of the bridge.
The BWTC project was awarded to convert a larger roadway section, including the Franklin Ave. Bridge. The bridge roadway was converted by Hennepin County as part of a signalization improvement and bridge maintenance, making the full project a collaborative effort of BWTC, the city of Minneapolis, and Hennepin County. The work on the bridge was completed in August 2010 and the full project completed in June 2011.
The early completion of treatments on the Franklin Bridge led to an immediate 43 percent reduction in the number of bicyclists riding on the sidewalk, which greatly reduced conflicts between the high number of bicyclists and pedestrians that use the Franklin Avenue Bridge. This makes travel safer for pedestrians and bicyclists on the bridge.
The Minnehaha 20th Avenue project provides a connection between key regional bicycle facilities, residential and University areas, commercial and retail destinations, and the Hiawatha Light Rail Line. The 1.5 mile project included restriping to convert from four to three vehicle travel lanes (with center-shared left turn lane), adding bicycle lanes, and providing the region's first bicycle left turn lane. The original section of 20th Avenue had a 4-foot shoulder straddling a 2-foot gutter pan with uneven and cracked seams; the new lane configuration provides a 5-foot bicycle lane that is separated from the gutter pan.
In addition to connecting to the Midtown Greenway Trail, this corridor has heavy multimodal transportation use. At 20th Ave. just north of Minnehaha Ave., daily traffic consists of approximately 5,000 motor vehicles (12,000 on Minnehaha south of 20th), 750 bicyclists, and 1,000 pedestrians. Intercept surveys conducted in fall 2010 found that between 4-6:00 p.m. on weekdays over 90 percent of bicyclists using 20th Ave. are commuting to work or school.
The new lane configuration has greatly improved the at-grade crossing for the more than 3,000 daily users of the Midtown Greenway at Minnehaha. The new crossing uses high-visibility pavement markings and overhead signage to alert approaching motorists to watch for and yield to people using the crossing.
Name: Nice Ride Bicycle Sharing
Summary: Public bicycle sharing program in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
Total Cost: $3,629,047
Results: More than 100,000 trips in the first season and no reported crashes; survey finds 23 percent of trips would have otherwise been made by car and 89 percent of trips are for transportation rather than recreation.
Figure 34: Birchwood Cafe Kiosk
(source: Nice Ride Minnesota)
As a complement to improved bicycling infrastructure, the Minneapolis pilot has placed a high priority on increasing bicycle access. Programs provide short-term daily access to bicycles as well as long-term loans to residents who might not otherwise be able to afford bicycles.
These programs are successful in encouraging people to try bicycling, while also replacing short distance vehicle trips with bicycling. The two key projects in this category are the Nice Ride Bicycle Sharing Program and the Sibley Community Partners Bike Library. The two projects complement each other well, serving different demographic populations within the pilot area. From April to November, Nice Ride provides readily-available and highly visible bicycles within a 12-square mile area of Minneapolis. The Sibley Community Partners Bike Library uses relationships with social service organizations to serve clients who have transportation challenges, by providing long-term use of a bicycle to meet their needs. Together, these programs provide access to bicycles, helping to address one of the barriers to use of active transportation.
Nice Ride Minnesota bicycle sharing opened in June 2010 with 700 bicycles at 65 kiosks, mostly around the downtown, university, and uptown regions of Minneapolis. In Phase 2, Nice Ride will add more than 50 stations, expanding in neighborhoods around downtown Minneapolis and along the new light rail line into Saint Paul.
The program is an example of a successful public-private partnership, with Phase 1 capital funding coming from BWTC, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBS-MN), and the city of Minneapolis. The BWTC and BCBS-MN will be major capital sponsors for the 2011 expansion.
The program provided over 100,000 rides in the first season without a single reported crash; subscribers reported that 23 percent of the trips would have otherwise been taken by car. Users can subscribe by the day, month, or year. The system is designed to support short trips; the first 30 minutes are free, after which time graduated fees are based on 30-minute intervals. Many of the Nice Ride kiosks are strategically located near transit and other key destinations, thereby expanding the reach of the transit system.
There has been extensive data analysis, evaluation, and public outreach involved in the process of launching the program and planning for the Phase 2 expansion. The public bike sharing system provides access and promotes active transportation, creating a presence on the streets and showing bicycling as fun and functional transportation.
Name: Community Partners Bike Library
Summary: Community bike library providing 6-month bicycle loans, classes, and support for low-income residents to acquire a bicycle.
Total Cost: $201,000 NTPP funds ($70,000 start-up in 2010)
Figure 35: Bike Library Participant with Bicycle and Trailer
(source: Bruce Silcox)
The Sibley Community Partners Bike Library (CPBL) provides fully equipped refurbished bicycles for 6-month loan to low-income community members. Each participant receives a helmet, lock, and safety training orientation. The CPBL also provides classes in safe bicycling, bicycle maintenance, and commuting, as well as support in acquiring a bicycle for long-term use at the end of the loan period.
Bicycles are loaned through 1 of 16 community partner organizations directly engaged with low-income community members. All CPBL bikes are lent to low-income community members, with an emphasis on making bikes accessible to community members traditionally less involved in the bike and transportation movement, including communities of color, women, and immigrants. A follow up survey of participants found 25 percent reporting that it was the first time that they had ridden as an adult, or ever.
Program demand has exceeded expectations, with a user waiting list and more community partner organizations expected to come on board. The CPBL has also expanded its services by adding odometers to the bicycles to help users track the distances they ride, as well as to provide program managers with mileage data. The program has been responsive to user feedback, adding a number of bike trailers so participants can transport children.
The CPBL program provides a unique and much needed resource to organizations serving economically disadvantaged clients, empowering them to use active transportation.
With a land area of 514 square miles, Sheboygan County NOMO considered a broad area in which to invest NTPP resources. The program chose to make several investments in its cities and villages, where relatively small projects would have large impacts on walking and bicycling. Some of these projects connect to existing facilities and other NTPP projects that promote bicycling and walking, including facilities at and near schools. Some of the community-level nonmotorized infrastructure projects include:
Name: Village of Cedar Grove Sidewalks and Bike Lanes
Completed: Fall 2008
Figure 36: The Project Adds Sidewalks, Bicycle lanes, and Sharrows in the Village of Cedar Grove (source: Sheboygan County NOMO)
Figure 37: The New Sidewalks and Bicycle Lanes
along South Main Street Provide Safe
Spaces for Bicycling and Walking
(source: Sheboygan County NOMO)
The Cedar Grove Sidewalks and Bike Lanes project is an example of the county's efforts to improve nonmotorized access and safety in community centers. This project is described in detail below.
Sheboygan County NOMO funded the Village of Cedar Grove Sidewalks and Bike Lanes project to add bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure where none previously existed. The Village of Cedar Grove is located 16 miles south of the city of Sheboygan. Prior to the project, there were sidewalks along portions of North Main Street, South Main Street, and Union Avenue, but the southern portion of South Main Street had no sidewalks, and the roadway was narrow, endangering bicyclists.
The Village of Cedar Grove requested NTPP funding for the Sidewalks and Bike Lanes project. The project took advantage of the village's plan to reconstruct and widen a 2,100-foot section of South Main Street by using NTPP funds to construct sidewalks and bicycle lanes along the corridor. These investments provided a safe and convenient way for residents to bicycle and walk to school, restaurants, shops, and employment centers. The project also connected to existing and planned sidewalks and bicycle lanes/sharrows, creating a comprehensive interconnected network for nonmotorized transportation in Cedar Grove.
The village used $428,000 in local funds to widen the existing roadway, and Sheboygan County NOMO allocated $431,300 in NTPP funds to construct sidewalks and bicycle lanes along the corridor. Working together to streamline the process, the village and the county completed construction of the project in the fall of 2008. The completed project enhances pedestrian access and safety for residents living along this segment of South Main Street and provides a dedicated right-of-way for bicyclists accessing shops and businesses in Cedar Grove.
The bicycle lanes and sidewalks project along South Main Street are just one of several NTPP-funded infrastructure investments in the Village of Cedar Grove. Sheboygan County NOMO plans to fund a bicycle and pedestrian path linking a planned residential subdivision to the Village of Cedar Grove High School. In addition, the county has funded new bicycle lanes and sharrows along Union Avenue, North Main Street, and South Main Street just north of the Sidewalks and Bike Lanes project. These projects combine to create a comprehensive bicycling and pedestrian network for Cedar Grove.
Sheboygan County NOMO has invested a significant portion of its NTPP funds to make nonmotorized infrastructure improvements in proximity to schools, promote bicycling and walking to school, and educate children and parents about bicycling and walking safety. This holistic approach to school-related access and safety encourages students to bicycle and walk safely and often, preparing the next generation for a lifetime of healthy and active transportation. Some of the projects and programs related to schools that Sheboygan County has implemented include:
Name: Howards Grove High School Pathways
Cost: $104,369 of NTPP funds
Figure 38: The Howards Grove High School Paths Provide Nonmotorized Access to the School and its Athletic Facilities
(source: Sheboygan County NOMO)
The Howards Grove High School Pathways project is an example of the county's commitment to improving nonmotorized access and safety to schools. This project is described in detail below.
Sheboygan County NOMO funded the Howards Grove High School Pathways project to address safety and access concerns relating to bicycling and walking to school. Before the pathways were built, bicyclists and pedestrians had no dedicated facilities along the main roadway leading to the school. Providing such a facility improves safety by reducing the potential for conflicts among motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Howards Grove High School is one of the busiest locations in the Village of Howards Grove. In addition to educating students during the day, the school is used for various community events open to all residents. The athletic complex behind the school hosts games and events after school hours and on weekends. The level of activity makes the Howards Grove High School Pathways project a high priority for the county.
Figure 39: Students, Faculty, and Staff Use the Path to Walk and Bicycle to School
(source: Sheboygan County NOMO)
The Howards Grove High School Pathways project includes 1,450 feet of pathway that is completely separated from motorists in order to avoid conflicts. The path leads from two access points along Audubon Road to the school and the athletic facilities in the rear. This layout makes it easy for students, school employees, and residents to walk or bicycle from the main road to the school and its athletic facilities.
Sheboygan County constructed the pathways at Howards Grove High School in the spring of 2009. The project cost $104,369 and was funded exclusively with NTPP funds. The pathway was open for the 2009-2010 academic year, allowing students and school employees to walk and bicycle to the school while avoiding potential conflicts with automobiles. The school's principal notes that walking and bicycling to school has increased significantly since the pathway opened.
The pathways at Howards Grove High School are just one example of the infrastructure investments in Howards Grove funded through NTPP. In 2009, Sheboygan County also funded and constructed 3,020 feet of new sidewalks and roughly 4.5 miles of bicycle lanes along Mill Street and Audubon Street in Howards Grove. Both of these new facilities directly connect to the pathways at Howards Grove High School. By constructing this interconnected network of bicycling and walking infrastructure, Sheboygan County is improving safety while promoting walking and bicycling in the Village of Howards Grove.
Name: Sheboygan County Bike and Walk to Work Week
Timeframe: Annual event in late spring
In addition to constructing new infrastructure to safely accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians, Sheboygan County NOMO has implemented several programs that encourage residents to choose walking and bicycling for transportation. By highlighting the benefits of bicycling and walking and providing incentives to reduce residents' reliance on automobiles, these programs are an integral part of the Sheboygan County NOMO Program. Education and outreach programs include:
The annual Bike and Walk to Work Week has been a staple of Sheboygan County's bicycle and pedestrian promotion programming. This program is described in detail below.
Figure 40: Bike and Walk to Work Week Participants Attend an Event
(Courtesy of Sheboygan County)
In 2008, Sheboygan County partnered with the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin to organize the county's first Bike and Walk to Work Week. The program is a high-profile, week-long series of events aimed at increasing the number of people walking and bicycling to work. It encourages interaction between employers and employees regarding nonmotorized commuting. Sheboygan County NOMO reached out to individuals and businesses throughout the county, specifically focusing on the urbanized areas of Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Plymouth, and Kohler.
Sheboygan County NOMO used incentives to encourage residents to change their regular commuting habits during Bike and Walk to Work Week. Each year, the program organizes commuter stations on each day during the week, offering donated coffee and fruit to participants. The program also encourages employers to offer incentives to their employees that choose to participate.
Figure 41: Bike and Walk to Work Week Logo
The program also asked employees to log the nonmotorized miles that they accumulated during Bike and Walk to Work Week. In 2011, cyclists who reported their mileage averaged a 5.9-mile one-way commute, and reporting walkers averaged 2.6 miles one-way. In 2011, one individual logged a total of 212 miles of bicycling during the week, and another commuter walked a total of 37.8 miles. Sheboygan County recognized the top individuals and companies in various categories.
Bike and Walk to Work Week does not focus only on commuting - Sheboygan County NOMO encourages residents to bicycle and walk for shopping as well. In 2010, the county organized Bike and Walk to Shop Week in conjunction with Bike and Walk to Work Week and partnered with 30 businesses, many of which provided incentives to their participating customers like in-store discounts and small gifts.
Over the last 4 years, Sheboygan County has seen an overall increase in bicycling and walking during Bike and Walk to Work Week. The county expects the trend to continue as nonmotorized infrastructure improvements are built and encouragement programs continue.