Community Cycles’ Comments on 30th and Colorado Corridors

The Community Cycles Advocacy Committee (CCAC) would like to thank the City of Boulder for embarking on the public process and design for safer 30th St and Colorado Ave corridors to better serve all users.

Included within are our comments on the options presented at the 30th St and Colorado Ave corridors Open House on February 7th. We appreciate the work that has gone into the public working group and to host this event.

General comments:

Protected Bike Lanes

The single most important outcome for bicycle safety, is protected bike lanes on 30th street. Given traffic volumes, automobile travel speeds, and the importance of 30th St as a major corridor in the city’s bicycle network, protected bike lanes are necessary to achieve a safer facility for bicyclists in the corridor .

Data shows crashes due to distracted driving are increasing.  Physical barriers to prevent distracted drivers from straying into bike lanes are necessary.  Protected lanes also improve perceived safety and will further the City’s goals of eliminating serious injuries (Vision Zero) and increased cyclist mode share (Transportation Master Plan (TMP)).

We also note attendees of the event rated protected bike lanes far higher than the buffered lane alternatives.

Intersections are dangerous and should be safer for all users

Proper intersection design is crucial for safety.  Six of the top ten intersections in the city in terms of crash rates are within the 30th St and Colorado Ave corridors. The intersections should  incorporate signal design that prioritizes safety, including leading pedestrian intervals and protected-only left turn phasing. Protected intersections must also be considered throughout these corridors. Presenting multiple options, within existing right of way, for protected intersections should be a focus of the remaining working group sessions, and we encourage staff to include intersection designs in future public outreach.  

Left turn signalization

Left turn signalization needs special attention especially if option 5 or 5a is chosen for 30th Street. Left turns across two general purpose lanes in a ‘permitted’ (not protected) phase are especially dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. Cars attempting to dash between oncoming traffic may not see cyclists and pedestrians obscured by two lanes of oncoming traffic.  If the City widens the bike lanes and sidewalks and maintains four motor vehicle lanes, but does not switch to protected left signalization, they are inviting more cyclists and pedestrians into a dangerous situation. Medians preventing dangerous left turns (such as the median currently at Marine St) may be necessary at side streets without signals. Signalization should prioritize safety in the corridor.  

Design options

30th Street

The CCAC supports Option 1a for 30th St between Baseline and Arapahoe.  

Option 1a, we believe, is the most appropriate option for a street adjacent to a neighborhood of residential homes and a city park. Option 1a contains the roadway mostly within the existing ROW. A significant widening of 30th St, as shown in Options 2,3 and 4 is extremely inappropriate in such close proximity to  neighborhood homes.  Additionally, the designs requiring significant additional width would take much longer to complete and reduce critical housing stock. In the meantime, 30th St would remain dangerous and inhospitable to people who walk and ride bikes. Waiting years to make 30th St safe while we have an elevated number of crashes is not acceptable.

Additional benefits of option 1a include:

  • A dedicated left turn lane allowing cars turning left to wait in a separate area, reducing the possibility of rear-end collisions.  The City’s data reports rear-end collisions are the most common type of collision in this section of roadway.

  • Removal of dual traffic lanes, minimizing the problem of limited visibility of cyclists and cars in the outside lane for those turning left.  This type of crash is the second most common collision here (tied with right turns).

  • Removal of dual traffic lanes naturally reduces speeds in the area, which increases safety and makes the area more pleasant for pedestrians, cyclists, and neighborhood residents.

  • Widening and protecting the bike lane increases perceived and actual safety for cyclists, moving bikes off the sidewalks and into the protected lane.

  • Cyclists will be more visible in the bike lane than on the sidewalk or side path, further increasing their safety.

  • Impacts on landscaping and residents’ yards are minimized

If the City, Council, and Boulder residents choose to retain the current 4 through lane configuration, without the left turn lane, the CCAC  believe that Option 5a is also acceptable.  The benefits of this option include:

  • Widening and protecting the bike lane reduces chances of a rear end collision and increases perceived and actual safety for cyclists.

  • With increased perceived and actual safety for cyclists, more cyclists will use the lane, reducing sidewalk riding and bike-ped collisions.

  • Cyclists will be more visible in the bike lane than on the sidewalk or side path, further increasing their safety.

  • Impacts on landscaping and residents’ yards are minimized.

For both Options1a or 5a, bus pullouts that remove bike-bus conflicts are far preferred and much safer than the current situation.

Colorado Avenue

CCAC  supports Option 1 for Colorado Ave, with the possible alteration of removing landscape buffers to reduce additional ROW acquisition.  Cycling and walking on shaded, landscaped streets is certainly appealing, but safety must come first, so we recommend prioritizing separation and protection over landscaping.  

The heavily traveled section west of 30th must be designed to avoid bus-bike conflicts.  Frequent buses must not simply pull into the bike lane to stop.  Given the University’s stated intention to make East Campus much more dense, the eastern section should be designed similarly.  Separating and protecting bicycles and buses is necessary, as is separating and protecting bicycles and pedestrians.

Option 1 rightfully recognizes the Colorado corridor as one where use and travel patterns, and therefore travel needs, are rapidly changing.  This design demonstrates public infrastructure can evolve to equitably support safe and efficient movement in the mode order of TMP priorities: pedestrians, bikes, transit and personal vehicles.

In the evaluation of options, we note that options 3 and 4 cannot rate as highly as the other options for goals 1.2: reduce potential conflicts among travelers and 1.4: improve comfort for all travelers by providing spaces for everyone, because it forces cyclists to share space with either pedestrians or buses.

Colorado Avenue West of Folsom

Every option separates all modes of travel, which we heartily endorse.  While option 4 does not provide physical separation of the bike lanes, traffic volumes and speeds on this section should fall within the NACTO guidelines for bicycle facilities.  We recommend against option 5, which puts large buses directly next to a bicycle lane that may be congested or narrowed by snow and ice.  Which option we would prefer for this section depends on how bus stops and intersections are treated.  Given that these details weren’t included, we can only speak in generalities.  Anything that reduces conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians or buses is preferable.  

Underpass

We remain doubtful of the value of the proposed underpass at 30th St and Colorado Ave if the streets themselves are designed with safety as a first priority.  However, we were heartened by the Director of Public Works’ commitment to Council that any underpass design would not in any way hinder at-grade crossing.  Consistent with this is the need for any underpass to allow on-street bicycle facilities to continue uninterrupted through the intersection.  Holding to this commitment will minimize some of the disadvantages that have been associated with other underpasses in the city.

Thank You

We thank City staff for their hard work creating these options and look forward to safer streets for all modes of travel within these critical corridors.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!