Monday, October 6, 2014

The FACTS about sabotage of Advisory Committee's Complete Street recommendations

TomorrowTo (Monday, Oct. 6) the City Council will be voting on the resolution to adopt the North Ave. recommendations, as described below.  The actual resolution is linked here:$file/DPW%20-%20North%20Avenue%20Corridor%20Plan%3B%20Create%20North%20Avenue%20Task%20Force.docx

There have been two amendments proposed by Councilors Kurt Wright and Tom Ayres that should be specifically addressed in public comments [and voted down]. 

The amendment proposed by Councilor Ayres, linked here:$file/Amendment%20per%20Councilor%20Ayres%20North%20Avenue%20Corridor.docx

It basically switches the language from removing all parking to "no parking at least on one side of North Avenue", removes the protected bike lane pilot with flex posts between Institute Road and VT 127, and removes the buffered bike lane between Shore Road and Plattsburg Avenue.  So we would still have parking on one side of the road, and the bike lanes in these two sections would be unprotected/unbuffered on both sides and in the door zone on one side.  This seriously weakens the short-term benefits of the project.  We especially want to preserve the pilot of the protected bike lane between Institute Road and VT 127 (although honestly I think it makes more sense between Washington St. and Institute Rd.).  This proposed amendment should be rejected entirely by the City Council.

The amendment proposed by Councilor Wright is linked here:$file/Amendment%20per%20Councilor%20Wright%20North%20Avenue%20Corridor.docx

Part of it adds more representatives to the North Avenue Task Force charged with helping DPW implement the plan, which on the face of it does not seem terrible, but it does unnecessarily weigh down an already large committee that already has representatives from the public.  The other part is quoted in full here: “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that metrics and community input will begin to be collected at the onset of the pilot project, to be fully reviewed and presented with staff recommendations 4 months into the pilot and again at the conclusion of the 4 - 3 lane pilot study. By its nature as a pilot study, if public input from the New North End does not support its continuation, the City will restore the 4 -3 lane pilot area to its current configuration; and” (emphasis added).  I understand the need for evaluation of a pilot project, but it should not be entirely based on some vague assessment of "public input".  I believe that DPW has its own process for evaluation of pilots, including public input, and that this should be relied upon for this project.  This proposed amendment too should be rejected by the City Council.

Let's show up in force to support adoption of the resolution with no amendments.  I do not know if more amendments may be proposed in the meeting, so it is still important to address the other issues listed below.

See you there!


On 10/3/2014 8:19 AM, Erik Brown Brotz wrote:
Come out and support important changes for walking and biking on North Avenue!

Who: Burlington City Council, plus you and a lot of other supporters of walking and biking
What: Discussion and voting on recommended changes for North Avenue
When: This coming Monday, Oct. 6, 7 pm.
Where: City Hall, Burlington
The City Council will be discussing the recommendations from the North Avenue Advisory Committee this coming Monday, Oct. 6 in City Hall.  The meeting starts at 7 pm with minor business and an annual report from CCPRC.  Public Comment period begins at 7:30 pm.  This is when we can make our thoughts on the North Ave. recommendations known.  Following that will be some other business and then presentation of the North Avenue Corridor Study and the recommendations, and then the City Council is scheduled to vote on adoption.  There are likely to be amendments proposed to the resolution before the final vote.  Here's a link to the short version of the proposal that was provided to City Council members as part of the agenda:$file/CC-NorthAveCorridor_memo_final.pdf

More complete documentation can be found on the CCRPC website:
Please come out and show your support for the recommended plan!  The long term vision includesprotected cycle track along the entire length of North Ave. and significantly improved intersections and crosswalks, including roundabouts in key locations.  Details of that long range plan are certainly subject to revision over time with further study and public comment, but now is the time to establish the vision of a complete street on this critical city corridor.

The short term recommendations are, I suspect, more vulnerable to revision and watering down, and thus it is especially important to show support for some of the details.  Most of these proposed short-term changes could be done in the next year or two at only modest expense, and are also reversible.  They would result in immediate benefits in improved safety, consistency, and community connection. Specific issues include: 
  • Converting from 4 to 3 lanes of traffic between Rt. 127 and Shore Rd. - This is critical to allow enough room for bike lanes of any kind on this section, to allow continuity and protection from traffic for bikes on this busy section. There is plenty of capacity for car traffic with 2 lanes plus a turn lane, and it will reduce confusion, lane-switching, and speeding, increasing safety for all travelers, whether by car, bus, bike, or foot. 
  • Removing parking on both sides from Institute Rd. to Rt 127, and from Shore Rd. to Plattsburgh Ave.- This too is critical to allow room for buffered bike lanes, without the danger of being doored. Parking on these sections is not used much, but there is likely to be considerable opposition. I support a compromise that would allow parking in the bike lane by church-goersSunday mornings near Shore Rd.  
  • Buffered bike lanes on both sides between Washington St. and Plattsburgh Ave. -Buffered bike lanes aren't cycle track or protected bike lanes, but they are a lot better than the current state and are possible in the short term, but only if we get the changes above.   
  • Pilot project for protected bike lanes between Institute Rd. and Rt 127 - The proposal is for putting in removable posts between the car and bike lanes (to be taken out in winter). This too is possible only if parking is removed from both sides. It would allow us to see how it really works, and would help students travel more safely from the NNE to the high school.   
  • Intersection and crosswalk improvements throughout - Most of these are not as controversial but are important to mention because they are so critical to improved safety for cars, bikes, and especially pedestrians. The intersection at Rt 127 is apparently the most controversial because of the proposed removal of the high-speed slip lanes. Leaving these in place as is makes biking and walking through this intersection difficult and dangerous. In any case, there needs to be accommodation of bike lanes coming from North and South, and a way to stop traffic (especially exiting from 127) to allow pedestrians to cross safely. Local Motion has proposed a compromise, and although I would much prefer to see the slip lanes removed entirely the compromise would be better than the current state.  
  • Speed limit reduction to 25 throughout - This is the only part of the original recommendations that was amended away before it got to the City Council, so it is not part of the proposal currently. It is unlikely to get added back in, but it is worth mentioning anyway. The most critical way to reduce speed and improve safety is through design changes, but a reduced legal speed limit is also an important factor.  

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