Boulder’s Canyon Boulevard revamp could include protected bike lanes

canyonFrom Boulder Daily Camera

Boulder transportation planners have seven different designs — some of which include protected and buffered bicycle lanes — for a planned overhaul of Canyon Boulevard between Ninth and 17th streets, the City Council heard Tuesday night.

The council met in a study session, so no decisions were made, but its members were asked to give feedback on the Canyon project — among a series of other transportation topics — that will help inform near-term action on Boulder’s streets, paths and sidewalks.

Tuesday’s session was intended as a check-in for council on the “Complete Streets” program within the Transportation Master Plan (TMP), the document that guides city policy on goals and priorities for a multimodal system. The TMP’s 2014 update was organized into five focus areas — of which Complete Streets was one, though they are all interrelated, just as the TMP’s objectives connect directly to Boulder’s most important issues, including housing, income inequality and sustainability.

On Canyon Boulevard, the seven design options all share a few common traits: four vehicles lanes, center medians and flexibility regarding whether or not the Glen Huntington Bandshell east of Broadway stays put. Several of the options call for planted center medians and multi-use paths on one or both sides of the street.

Others are slightly more ambitious, calling for single-direction protected bike lanes on both sides, or on-street, 5-foot-wide bike lanes.

City staff plans to return in December to the council with a preferred conceptual design option for Canyon, informed by input from the public and other Boulder boards and commissions. But council members on Tuesday made clear that they’d like to see an outcome work outside the confines of the project’s 8-block east-west stretch.

“A concern I would have is that we don’t set something up between Ninth and 17th that creates a dangerous path continuing for the bicyclists,” Councilwoman Lisa Morzel said.

Of course, any discussion that the council has about multiple modes sharing streets and paths in Boulder will be at least partially informed by the infamous episode of last year, when protected bike lanes were installed on Folsom Street, as part of the city’s “Living Lab” program designed to test different street treatments.

It’s been about eight months since crews began dismantling sections of protected bike lanes on Folsom, putting an end to part of the “right-sizing” experiment. But the bike lanes on Folsom were only undone between Canyon and Spruce Street. Some remain and, evidently, so do the speeding drivers that many complained about when the bike lanes were being publicly debated after installment.

Safe speeds

Despite the limit of 30 mph and the multiple crossings and streetlights in that area, city staff says that many continue to speed. In a separate conversation about concerns of bike speeders, Marni Ratzel, a senior transportation planner, said that 8 mph is considered the ideal limit in crosswalks, and 15 mph is the limit on multi-use paths.

Councilwoman Jan Burton suggested at one point that the city might be wise to post actual speed limit signs for cyclists…

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