Officially No Reason for Grand Forks not to have Bike Share

“In its vision statement, Nice Ride says one of its goals is to increase access to bikes and create vibrant town centers in outstate Minnesota. Plans are rolling along to do that next summer in Bemidji, said spokesman Anthony Desnick. Nice Ride picked the northern Minnesota community of 13,400 because of its coffee shops, hotels, and access to regional trails.
“It met the litmus test of being a place where tourists could go for two or three days and not have to use a car to get around,” Desnick said. The hope is that locals then would see how feasible biking is and hop on.”

http://www.startribune.com/local/229475001.html

Public Input Meeting – 42nd Street MUP

http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/275310/group/homepage/

A public input meeting on a new bike and running path on Grand Forks’ South 42nd Street will be held 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday [October 15th] at Century Elementary School, the city said.  The proposed path would extend from 17th Avenue South to 24th Avenue South. City and state representatives will be available to answer questions. 
To submit written comments, send them by Oct. 30 to David Kuharenko, Engineering Department, P.O. Box 5200, Grand Forks, ND 58206 or dkuharenko@grandforksgov.com with “Public Input Meeting” in the subject heading.

I am in favor of a multi-use path if it is 1) wide enough to classify as such, and not a sidewalk, and 2) placed on the side of the road that is least likely to have additional driveways/curbcuts installed as development proceeds along this section.  I think these points are important because multi-use paths are no safer than sidewalks if there are many auto crossings.  See Idaho’s metrics as cited here:

  • >8 crossings per mile, recommend against a multipath in favor of on-street facility
  • 5-8 crossings per mile, proceed with caution and consider on-street facility
  • 1-4 crossings per mile, use special care.
Building wide sidewalks (meaning that they contain many crossings and are not designed for higher-speed bicycle use) and calling them multi-use paths may come off as an attempt to artificially inflate the number of multi-use paths in town.  I don’t think this is the case, but I would rather see on-street bicycle facilities along streets that have more driveways than the block of 42nd Street in question.

23rd Street and 2nd Avenue

I stopped bicycle commuting via 2nd Ave N several years ago because I prefered the lower traffic volume and slightly wider street one block south.  Since I now work near the UND end of 2nd Ave N, however, I still get to glance down the street several times a day to see how people are faring.

Observations this fall:

  • Many people on bicycles (and longboards) still use 2nd Ave N west of 23rd Street for commuting to class.
  • Estimate about a 50/50 split between riding on the sidewalk and riding in the street, although if this number is not 50/50, I’d err on the side of more people on bicycles on the sidewalk.
  • Eastbound at 2nd and 23rd, again about half of the people on bicycles continue east on 2nd, and half turn south onto 23rd.
  • I haven’t noticed many (if any) people on bicycles on the wrong side of the street, although people on longboards in this town seem to prefer riding with traffic rather than against it.
  • Many people on bicycles ride as far to the right as possible, including between parked cars when there is a space.
I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to come up with improvements for this stretch of road, but I’ll cover them in an upcoming post if you can’t think of any.

Cycling on 2nd Avenue North

I stopped bicycle commuting via 2nd Ave N several years ago because I prefered the lower traffic volume and slightly wider street one block south.  Since I now work near the UND end of 2nd Ave N, however, I still get to glance down the street several times a day to see how people are faring.

Observations this fall:

  • Many people on bicycles (and longboards) still use 2nd Ave N west of 23rd Street for commuting to class.
  • Estimate about a 50/50 split between riding on the sidewalk and riding in the street, although if this number is not 50/50, I’d err on the side of more people on bicycles on the sidewalk.
  • Eastbound at 2nd and 23rd, again about half of the people on bicycles continue east on 2nd, and half turn south onto 23rd.
  • I haven’t noticed many (if any) people on bicycles on the wrong side of the street, although people on longboards in this town seem to prefer riding with traffic rather than against it.
There are a number of issues with people riding bicycles on the sidewalk.  First, it increases the likelihood of conflicts with other sidewalk users–small children, people with strollers, people walking dogs, other people on bicycles–all within a narrow width and at higher speeds than the sidewalks were designed for.  Second, it increases the likelihood of conflicts at intersections–with people in/on vehicles on the street–without a clear right-of-way.  Neither people in cars on the street nor people on bicycles on the sidewalk want to stop.  People on bicycles on the sidewalk are unexpected, especially when entering the intersection from the right, and traveling faster than people in cars are expecting sidewalk traffic to be traveling.
If we can agree that people riding bicycles on the sidewalk isn’t the most optimal scenario, we need to figure out how to change their behavior.  Signs are not likely to help, nor are repeated admonitions.  Until cycling becomes more ingrained in the Grand Forks culture (including correct assessment of risk for different modes of transportation), infrastructure changes seem the most likely way to change the behavior of sidewalk riders. (One issue with infrastructure is that you need support from people to build it, and you can’t get support if people aren’t already riding on existing infrastructure!)
I am assuming two things: that people choose not to ride in the street because of perceived safety concerns, and that, given an alternative (safer-feeling) on-street place to ride that is faster than riding on the sidewalk, they will use it.  Given these assumptions, it seems appropriate to address this section of 2nd Avenue North in conjunction with the new Looking southeast from above 2nd Ave N, just east of Columbia Road.