More on University Ave Sharrows

[Sorry for the haphazard nature of this, just trying to get the information out there.  As soon as I know something firm, I will edit this post and probably get a new one up.]

Part 1

The minutes from the Grand Forks City Council/Service-Safety Committee from February 11 are available here.  Item number 11 (discussed) relates to adding sharrows to University Avenue between Columbia Road and North 3rd Street.  This was brought up for discussion because it is a change in the original plan of bike lanes along this stretch.

(In the minutes, I think “bikepath”is meant in every case to mean “bike lane,” however I have heard from other sources that to many in the local government, shared-use paths are the only acceptable places for people on bicycles to be, so I am curious as to if (in some people’s minds) “bike lane” is synonymous with “shared-use off-street path.”)

The City Engineer’s office is comfortable recommending sharrows, but not bike lanes, due to width restrictions (specifically related to snow pileup in the winter) (pers. comm. with Jason Schaefer).  This was stated in the S/S meeting minutes as well.

The committee moved to hold a decision for two more weeks from the meeting (in minutes), which would put it on Feb25th. I hear there may be an open house on the subject, hopefully before a decision is made  The public input meeting is Thursday, Feb 27th at 4:30 PM, A101, City Hall.  The Greenway & Trail Users Advisory Group is the official organized first contact if you have ideas or opinions on this sort of thing.

Part 2

As has been brought to my attention, there are two issues at stake here:  First, some people are concerned about that the process of creating the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, during which there were multiple opportunities for public comment, is being thwarted by City Engineering after the plan was approved by City Council.  That is, “the plan calls for a bike lane, so why are sharrows going in?”  Second, some people are disappointed that sharrows are going in rather than bike lanes.  These are both reasonable questions to ask.
I don’t think there’s any sort of power struggle between the council and engineering–I think engineering is doing the best they can to match the spirit of the bike/ped plan–but I do think that they may be acting extra cautious because this will be the first use of either a) sharrows or b) a marked bike lane between a travel lane and a parking lane in Grand Forks.  If we can provide data-driven, engineering-based solutions from other cities, I think we could work out some kind of compromise on both of these issues.

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