What: GetAbout Columbia meeting regarding the first bike boulevard
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Benton Elementary School
Why: Bike boulevard proposed for Windsor Street in Benton-Stephens neighborhood
COLUMBIA – In another effort by GetAbout Columbia to make the city more bicycle-friendly, the first “bike boulevard” will likely be created this summer on Windsor Street.
Pending approval from residents, the bike boulevard will run through Benton-Stephens neighborhood, from College Avenue to Ann Street, Program Manager Ted Curtis of GetAbout Columbia said.
“Essentially, a bike boulevard is a residential street that’s parallel to a main street and gets some through traffic,” Curtis said. “You divert the through traffic to other streets and make the street friendly for bikes to use.”
The goal is that cars and bikes share the road, without strict dividing lines. Traffic from Windsor would be moved to Walnut Street, which runs parallel to it, so that cars on Windsor will be mostly slower, local traffic.
“It’s a quiet residential street where everyone’s going slow and sharing the same space,” Curtis said.
Curtis mentioned a number of techniques that can be used to redirect traffic, including one-way streets, right-turn only intersections, dead-ends for cars and restricted entrances to streets, all of which decrease car traffic and make streets safer for bikes.
“It depends on the street and what the residents want,” he said of choosing an option. “You look at what techniques work in the different areas.”
Windsor Street was initially expected to become one-way to better accommodate bicyclists, but the latest idea is to prohibit left turns from Windsor onto College. Still, designs for Windsor and the other boulevards remain up in the air, Curtis said.
“Until you get further into the planning stages, we really don’t know,” he said.
A meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Benton Elementary School to discuss the Windsor Street proposal and options and to allow residents to give feedback. If the neighborhood reaction is positive, the project will start this summer, Curtis said.
The bike boulevard project is beginning on a pilot basis, with three projects, the first of which is Windsor Street, Curtis said. He said each boulevard is expected to cost “significantly under” $50,000.
A bike boulevard beginning at Parkade Boulevard would run along multiple roads, such as Madison Street and Edgewood Avenue, as it works its way south to the MKT trail. The third route would be on William Street from Boone Hospital Center south to Rollins Street, Curtis said. These two projects are expected to begin in 2010.
GetAbout Columbia is trying a variety of other ideas to encourage Columbians to bike by improving intersections , widening sidewalks and adding bikeways, striped bike lanes and shared lane markings called “sharrows,” said Jill Stedem, a spokeswoman for the Columbia Public Works Department.
“There are a number of different projects going forward,” Stedem said. But funding is limited and Columbia would need another grant program or pilot funding through the federal government to continue expanding such efforts.
The full list of projects approved by the Columbia City Council can be found on GetAbout Columbia’s Web site.
Curtis said bike boulevards have seen success in Berkeley, Calif., and Portland, Ore., and several other cities nationwide are trying the concept. If the three projects in Columbia are successful, it is likely that more would be created throughout the city.
“It’s not in the plan right now, but if it works and people like it, there are potential opportunities,” Curtis said. “We’re trying to set up an integrated system where you can get anywhere from anywhere” – by bike.