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Monday, May 08, 2006

Bike boulevards: Ep 2

Most of the bicycle boulevards don't have special features, like I mentioned, but some of them do have some traffic calming measures. Milvia, between Cedar and University, is notable for its design to slow down traffic. It's distinctive for its curvy design:

I like this idea a lot, because a narrower street with a couple slight bends really provides an impetus to slow down. Constrained by the curbs and the bike lanes, drivers usually take it a little easier on this road, which is a pretty sensible thing for a residential street running by an elementary school. Bikers are subject to the same curves, of course, but aren't affected as much because bikes aren't usually screaming down the road anyway. (Actually, the city claims the bike lanes are actually "painted shoulders", but no one cares.)

I'm less enthusiastic about the speed humps on this road. They're sort of effective, but a little observation reveals that most drivers slow way down for them and then speed up again, so the bumps seem to afford inefficient driving that doesn't really make the road so much slower. They're also pretty ugly, and seem like a brute-force solution to a problem that could be solved more elegantly.

The final sort of obstacle is a total barrier to motor traffic that lets bikes sail through. This design certainly leads to less traffic, and it seems psychologically effective as well, in that I've never seen a car go around the barriers to get through. The overall effect is that the residential roads with these planters are ineffective as thoroughfares – through traffic is diverted to the main roads like Shattuck. It's convenient for me, at least.