2/11/13 Letter from PPSP to Division/Church Study Project Staff

This is Bob Fisch from Poky Pedaling Stevens Point. I am writing to offer comments regarding the Division/Church Business 51 Improvement Study. This e-mail is the second of several I will send – about one per week – before the February 28 date you indicate on the comment form distributed at the public information meeting of January 22.

In this e-mail, I will focus on the region of the Division/Church corridor from the southern city limits to Patch St.

The existing right of way on most of this southern section is rather wide. As a result, there are likely to be opportunities to apportion more width to the bicycle infrastructure built in this section.  This section offers many businesses – Save-A-Lot grocery, various restaurants and fast food places, Walgreens, Dollar General, a movie theater, and many more – that are attractive destinations for bicycle traffic. The creation of quality bicycle infrastructure on this southern section will certainly encourage more people to use bicycles to get to these destinations.

As I stated in my first e-mail. I would like to see some sort of separated bicycle lane where 8- to 80-year-olds would feel safe and comfortable riding to destinations on Church St in this section.

If you do not find this to be a feasible option, I would ask that a 2- or 3-foot wide “no-drive” buffer be created between the motor vehicle and bicycle lanes. Anything less than this would create a very intimidating environment for bicycle operators due to the closeness of passing cars and (very large) trucks – many of which travel well over the posted 25 MPH speed limit.

The creation of separated or buffered bike lanes in this section would provide the city of Stevens Point an opportunity allow city traffic engineers to discover what does and doesn’t work well with such innovative bicycle infrastructure and to make adjustments to create a better implementation.

Having separated or buffered bike lanes would also provide an opportunity to educate local motor vehicle operators about how to drive near these types of bicycle infrastructure.

These learnings by city traffic engineers and local drivers will be valuable once the northern portion of this Division/Church corridor gets reconstructed. The bicycle infrastructure implemented along Division between Fourth Ave and Northpoint Dr will be much more effective because of the experience gained from the implementation on the southern portion of this corridor.

There are several crossings of this southern section of the corridor that are problematic. The most notable ones are at Francis/Patch, at Whiting/Rice, and at Nebel St.

The Francis/Patch and Whiting/Rice crossings both are difficult because each crossing requires travel along Church St. for a few hundred feet to connect between the misaligned streets. Appropriate bicycle infrastructure of some sort along Church St. in these two short segments would vastly improve these crossings for bicycle traffic. A multi-use path – basically a widened sidewalk – along these two short segments would give bicycle traffic the opportunity to safely reach a location where the rider could conveniently stop and wait for a break in Church St traffic before making a direct crossing.

At both the Francis/Patch and the Whiting/Rice crossings, a two-way multi-use path could be implemented along one side of Church St. with a standard-width sidewalk along the other side.

The Nebel St crossing feels extremely large – the scale is inappropriate for bicycle and foot traffic to feel safe crossing. This large size requires people driving to focus intently on other motor vehicles – for example, turning vehicles, slowing vehicles, lane changes – to avoid a collision. The existing design of the intersection causes motor vehicle operators to easily miss people bicycling and walking.

It would be helpful to create signage or other infrastructure to alert motor vehicle operators to watch for bicycle and foot traffic crossing Nebel. Perhaps reducing Neblel between Water and Church to one motor vehicle lane in each direction would help. I hope you will consider these and other options for improving this crossing at Nebel.

Thank you for taking the time to read my comments. I hope you are able to incorporate my suggestions into the design you create for the Divison/Church corridor.

Bob Fisch
Poky Pedaling Stevens Point