World Class Walk/Bike Infrastructure on Traverse City’s Revisioned 8th Street? Yes, please

After last night’s Traverse City Commission Study Session, I’ve been thinking and researching a lot on best practice cycle-track design, which I truly believe is what we should be shooting for with this project – bike infrastructure that is world class.

This document that was shared yesterday referenced Vassar Street in Cambridge, MA as an example of a cycle track that co-exists with driveways. I reached out to a few friends in the Boston area to get their thoughts on Vassar. The feedback was luke-warm: wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible. Per these frequent users, the main issue with the Vassar cycle track is with the proximity of the cycle track and the sidewalk, a concern that Mayor Carruthers raised in the meeting last night. In fact, Cambridge has since changed the way they design cycle tracks since Vassar St. to better separate bicyclists and pedestrians.

My MA friends gave an example of Western Ave. in Cambridge, MA as an example of a cycle track done even better. The main difference here is the green space/tree space is placed between the sidewalk and cycle-track. This reduces potential conflicts between bikes/peds and also places bicyclists in a more visible position to drivers on the roadway or entering/exiting driveways.

Here at Norte, what we are expecting in the final design is what the Envision Eighth process called for – dedicated, welcoming space for all road users. Ultimately a healthy and vibrant place that is walkable, bikeable, and safe for all users.

A few things we love about the current design:

A few things we’d still like to see:

  • A safe, welcoming space for people who bike that is physically separated from motor vehicles with minimal conflict points – closing as many driveways as possible is critical.
  • A buffer between spaces for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Less “green space” (meeting last night I heard anywhere from 10′ to 11.5′) and more space for bikes/people walking & rolling (NACTO guidelines state: “Sidewalks have a desired minimum through zone of 6 feet and an absolute minimum of 5 feet.”) A few extra feet of width to the sidewalk would be great!
  • Consideration for how bicyclists will make left turns off of Eighth Street
  • Guarantees that utility boxes, lighting poles, signs, etc are not located in the right of way for bicyclists or pedestrians

While Norte is committed to helping build a stronger, better connected and more walk/bike friendly Eighth Street, we are only one piece of the puzzle.

We need YOUR voice.

We need YOU to advocate for safe, convenient and accessible opportunities on Eighth Street.

We need YOU to take action.

If you care about the health, happiness, and safety of all Traverse City residents, here are some ways you can help:

1) Email City leadership and share WHY a walkable, bikeable, safe Eighth Street is important to you.

2) Write a letter to the editor to help educate your neighbors about why a healthy Eighth Street is so vitally important to the immediate and future health of our City.

3) Sign our petition HERE

Chris Hinze is a husband, dad, physical therapist, Cleveland Browns fan, Norte board member and chair of the Traverse City Pro Walk/Pro Bike committee. He lives in the Old Town neighborhood with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisHinzePT