Ahwatukee is getting two traffic circles courtesy of the City of Phoenix’s collector street mitigation project. One at Equestrian Trail and Appaloosa Drive, and the other at 36th and Coconino Streets. At the same time, the bike lanes were re-configured on 36th Street. Equestrian Trail also has a bike lane; that has not been altered other than to allow for the circle.
The funds for this program come from a 2006 bond issue.
The circles are made of temporary plastic bumpers and break-away reflector posts, and of course a lot of paint. The city will evaluate their function over the next few months and then make some recommendations.
There was a news article on the Equestrian circle in the Ahwatukee Foothills News, June 24, 2009.
There was a failed mitigation project being proposed for 36th street, just south of this stretch. That was to be a road-diet; that area is 4-lanes, the proposal would have taken it down to one each way plus a TWLTL, and bulb-outs for ped crosswalks. The project failed because of resident complaints.
36th Street; Before
The bike lane has been reconfigured between Knox Road, and Equestrian Trail, where 36th Street terminates. This road is ungodly wide, and consisted of one extremely wide lane in each direction, plus the bike lane. I’m guessing it was ~ 55′ wide. Despite the abundance of space, the bike lanes were snuggled right up to the curb. The travel lane was ~ 20′ (!) wide. The posted speed limit is 25/30mph. 25 on the northern part nearer Equestrian, and 30 on the souther end nearer Knox, where the 30 continues to the terminus of 36th Street at Ranch Circle. In this not-quite before picture, you can see the black slurry that was used to “erase” the bike lane and the center line. The new two-way left turn lane has already been created. Some stretches have sidewalks and other don’t — this particular area pictured it was pretty common to meet a jogger head-on around this blind curve. There is also a driveway hidden by the curve. Being so far away from the center of the lane, the bike lane accumulated lots of debris. In short it was a bad configuration for a bike lane and I never rode in it.
36th Street, After
The posted speed limit remains 25/30mph, and still one travel lane in each direction, now a reasonable ~ 11′ width. The bike lanes have been moved out from the curbs. A two-way left turn lane (TWLTL; a.k.a. “suicide lane”) has been created. And of course the traffic circle has been added.
There is a potential for this to be a “Door Zone Bike Lane”; on the other hand, parking is going to be rare anyway; and getting the bike lane away from the curb helps in many other ways. I am not sure what will be done regarding parking, e.g. in this shot, you can see the no parking anytime sign below the bike lane sign. This is the same signage from before. Elsewhere near the church, along the west side of the street it was marked no parking M-F daytime hours; in other words, parking was allowed in the bike lane at all other times. Normally you would see parked cars in the bike lane only on Sunday mornings, or occasionally when there was some event at the church.
Here is the circle at at 36th and Coconino Streets. The only hassle for bicyclists is they now need to merge into traffic ahead of the circle since the bike lane just “dissolves”, and the intention is to squeeze the size of the opening down to (hopefully) slow down speeding motorists. Each entrance is marked “Yield to traffic in circle”.
36th Street, After After
Then, after the installation was in for a couple of weeks, in early August 2009 bike lane “bypass” was added to the 36th Street Circle, as pictured here. The bike lane was bent over to the right. The effect is to delay the point of merge to the very last possible point. I suppose this is good in the sense that at that point motor vehicle traffic is going to be going at its slowest. But, on the other hand, the whole thing feels un-VC (Vehicular Cycling), and I would recommend merging ahead (when safe, of course) at a point of my (the cyclist’s) choosing. I just so happened to snap a pic of a cyclist doing just that. So all in all, I preferred the earlier arrangement, the dashed stripe; it made it clear to everybody involved what needed to be done. This is a low-speed, low-volume road so it’s not that big of an issue but still… it raises a niggling little legal detail as to whether a cyclist is required to use the bypass or not. In the original striping there was no question; the bike lane was entirely interrupted. The way it is now, who knows? And for the purposes of §28-735, does the bypass count as a “bicycle lane or path (that) is present and passable?
The “bypass” is only along 36th street, not Coconino. And the Equestrian circle (below) wasn’t modified at all.
The existing lane striping has not been changed; the road has a bike lane right next to the curb, and one wide (~15′) travel lane in each direction. The existing posted speed limit of 25mph has not changed. Complaints by residents of speeding have been perennial, and it’s easy to see why. Many more homes are directly along Equestrian compared to, say, 36th street. There are no sidewalks, nor on-street parking. this leads to nearly constant and predictable obstructions in the bike lane; joggers/walkers, garbage bins, recycle bins, landscape and service trucks, as well as overflow parking from the residences. Also, there are a profusion of driveways (there are two driveways to each home). All of this adds up to a bike lane that should rarely be used, or possibly never — even if it appears clear the many driveways offer hidden obstacles of cars suddenly backing/pulling out.